You thought taxpayer obligation to pay for Jackson Laboratory is costly?
How do established local businesses respond to it?
Why would Arthrex Inc. now be motivated to expand their business in Collier County with 200–300 new jobs planned to be created in the next 12 to 18 months and over 1000 new jobs projected within 10 years, without government or community support, while standing back to watch Jackson Labs receive unprecedented public accolades as the savior of medicine and economic diversification worthy of $500 million of state and local taxes and private grants?
Jackson Labs presents a lot of unproven speculation, but let’s look behind the scenes of real economic diversification going on, without any taxpayer support, in our community.
Arthrex Inc. located to Naples in 1991 with two employees, without community support, recognition or public funding and invests millions in medical research and development on its own. It has created over 900 high-tech, high-wage jobs in our community, gives back up to $1 million a year to over 60 local organizations and charities, and has a significant economic impact by attracting over 6,000 visitors who spend millions of dollars on local hotels, restaurants, recreation and retail throughout the year.
Arthrex pioneers medical technology that helped create outpatient arthroscopic surgery with over 300 patents and awards from around the world and is very close to developing a biologic treatment for arthritis.
Arthrex has historically grown its global surgical device business in Collier County to lead the community in economic diversification and provide career opportunities for our local population. I guess that is just not enough to deserve more than a Business of the Month placque from the Economic Development Council and Collier County commissioners as they focus their efforts on soliciting not-for-profit Jackson Labs with $260 million of state and local taxpayer money and $120 million in philanthropic donations, with limited evidence of commercial success, economic stimulus and tax revenue to our community.
Let me remind you that Hellerman Tyton once had a prominent company in North Naples that decided to lay off 150 of its local employees and move the company to Illinois due to our high cost of living burden, lack of skilled workforce and absence of local government support. Did the EDC or government step in to incentivize them to stay?
What about Defense Research leaving? And Shaw Arrow? Hundreds of jobs gone.
The departing list goes on.
Our local government and EDC does nothing to support and retain important local businesses that represent the largest employers and significant tax base revenue for the community.
Why is economic diversification difficult for our community? It’s because if your business does not depend on real estate and tourism, the cost of living is too high for hourly and salaried workers to live here and our community does not have a technology-experienced workforce to be competitive. It’s also difficult to recruit qualified people to our community because they can’t sell they existing homes and the cost of a comparable home here is significantly higher. You must build to hurricane-proof building requirements, tolerate excessive AC/electric generator costs and the risk of hurricane destruction wiping out your business.
Unless you breed lab mice and spend money that you don’t have on expensive lobbyists to get you a free ride to Florida so your high-end employees have a nice place to work in the winter, you are on your own if you want any financial support to keep or move your business here.
The larger the company, the greater the economic pressures from stakeholders and employees to move to an economic friendly environment to remain competitive. Local businesses like Arthrex that generate a significant tax-base revenue and employment for the community are watching closely as unproven, not-for-profit Jackson Labs gets unprecedented preferential incentives and accolades for promises of medical contributions and economic diversification as a savior for our community and our land owners in Ave Maria.
We get the message, commissioners. It’s time for Arthrex to consider following Hellerman Tyton’s lead and invest in our business expansion elsewhere where our business will be appreciated.
Our EDC and county commissioners state they want to pursue economic diversification for our community. Does blindly following what seven other Florida biotech cluster strategies have already failed to accomplish represent smart economic diversification? Why try to replicate and compete against what has already failed? With a half-billion dollars of risk? Isn’t Naples capable of creating its own unique economic diversification strategy instead of acting like lemmings over the cliff?