The region is in a position now to compete for R&D on a national scale, says economic developer Don Root.
Now marketing the region as the "Research Coast" rather than the "Treasure Coast," economic developers are pursuing two big prizes. The federal government is creating a $450-million National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility to replace its aging facility at Plum Island, N.Y. The facility, which will conduct research to create vaccines and drugs, has drawn interest from 14 applicants in seven states. Officials are expected to narrow their choices down by the fall.
In addition, the region is also courting the non-profit medical researcher Burnham Institute, which is headquartered near Scripps in La Jolla, Calif. The county is unofficially offering to invest $80 million, including $44 million to build a complex for Burnham. Orlando is the only known competitor for Burnham.
Don Root, executive director of the Economic Development Council of St. Lucie County, says the region is now confident it can compete for R&D development on a national scale. "We aren't comparing ourselves to the Research Triangle or to Boston or to California," he notes. "We are creating our own center of gravity here."