NAPLES — A recommendation of a citizens advisory committee evaluating the proposed Jackson Laboratory project may come down to a 2.8 million square foot leap of faith.
The 2.8 million square feet account for “cluster companies,” other businesses that are projected to come to Collier County as a result of Jackson Laboratory’s presence.
The number is based on an analysis by Washington Economics Group Inc., which projects 3 million square feet of space at the total build out of the biomedical research park.
Only the 165,000-square-foot Jackson Laboratory is committed.
The Maine-based nonprofit genetics research company has said a hospital and medical school would be crucial to the lab’s success. The analysis projects 750,000 square feet for those ventures – but the advisory committee wants to see some names.
“We don’t have those things right now,” committee member Janet Vasey said. “You’ll get [Jackson Laboratory] here, but you won’t have the other parts.”
“We’ve got hospitals right now that are suffering,” committee member Joe Swaja said.
The report also projects 20,000 square feet for goods and services, 8,000 square feet for local government services and 780 residential units.
The 11,490 jobs projected throughout the next 23 years depend on successfully attracting enough business to build out the biomedical park.
The county will have to invest $130 million into the project, matching the state’s $130 million.
If the county invested based on a 10-year business plan, it would see $74 million of the $130 million returned to the community through taxes and revenue after 23 years.
If the county investment was bonded, the return would be smaller.
Though it’s hard to see a positive return on the county’s investment, whether the committee finds Jackson Laboratory economically viable or not will need to account for the intangibles, committee chairman Steve Harrison said.
Included in the intangibles are benefits to public health, safety and quality of life that a biomedical park can bring to a community. The committee also suggested that the biomedical park could add to the hospitality sector if medical conferences were held in Collier County.
The $130 million would be granted to Jackson Laboratory in stages. The committee wants to see more security for the county’s money, possibly through ownership of the facility and liens on equipment bought with the money.
“What if you terminate in year 8?” Harrison asked.
The committee met on Monday and will meet again on Wednesday to finalize its recommendation to the county board of commissioners.