The Jupiter, FL branch of the Scripps Research Institute is learning the hard way that when you sell politicians on the idea of job creation, they're going to expect you to create jobs--no matter how much success you can point to in the institute's other mission: science. When Scripps Florida opened in 2009, the company's deal with the state and county required it to create 545 jobs by 2013. Scripps Vice President Harry Orf tells The Palm Beach Post that, as of now, Scripps has 400 employees at its Jupiter site.
And while that jobs deadline is still more than a year away, that just does not seem like a good return on investment for some Florida politicians. The Palm Beach Post quotes Democratic Sen. Gwen Margolis as saying that lawmakers have invested $1.5 billion in Scripps and six other biotech research centers that have created 1,100 jobs. "If it's only 1,100 jobs, it doesn't seem like it panned out too well," Margolis told The Post. "That's more than $1 million per job," Margolis added.
The Jupiter region of Florida is trying to become a center for biotechnology research. Last year, it also welcomed its own branch of the prestigious Max Planck Institute. Nobody seems to be criticizing the quality of the actual science that comes out of Scripps Florida, and that is where Orf says that lawmakers need to pay attention.
He told The Post the state stands to gain millions of dollars in royalties when Scripps pharmaceutical developments make it to market. "You are investing in innovation and discovery, and that's going to be the real driver," Orf says.