Population is once again on the rise in the area. According to the latest numbers from the United States Census Bureau, southwest Florida as a whole is one of the fastest growing areas in the country. That includes the Punta Gorda-Port Charlotte Co. and North Port-Sarasota and Bradenton areas. Sarasota Co. ranked 10th overall, growing by nearly 9,000 residents, while Manatee Co. came in at number 32 statewide. The Census report cites new home construction and -naturally- water and outdoor activities as two of the main draws.