The Jackson Laboratory announced today that it will withdraw its request for $100 million in state start-up funding for an expansion facility in Sarasota County, Florida. Laboratory officials based their decision on the lack of funds in Florida’s severely constrained state budget, which provides only limited funding for economic development activities.
Charles E. Hewett, Jackson’s executive vice president, said that senior economic development officials were supportive but did not have access to sufficient funds to ensure a successful launch of the proposed research institute. ”We were invited to submit a much-reduced proposal to the Florida Innovation Fund, but the amount available in that fund now, and the uncertainty of future funding, made such a venture too speculative to undertake responsibly.”
Hewett said, “We are grateful to Governor Scott and the Florida legislature for considering our proposal in the midst of a challenging legislative session. We respect that the state had to make difficult priority decisions in order to balance the budget this year. While we regret that we cannot pursue our project, we hold the state and its officials in the highest possible regard.
“We are deeply grateful to our many friends in Sarasota County,” he said. “Their belief in our cause and their willingness to act on that belief has been truly inspiring. We can never fully repay the hospitality and kindness that have been extended to us. We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to our partners—the University of South Florida, Sarasota Memorial Health Care System and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation. The Sarasota County commissioners and their executive leaders were superb, and the Sarasota legislative delegation provided invaluable advice on the process.”
Hewett indicated that this would be the final chapter in the Laboratory’s Florida venture. “We understand Florida’s budget situation, and we will turn our attention to other priorities,” he said.