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Florida Lawmakers Set Aside $130M for New Jackson Lab Campus

By Alex Philippidis

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Florida's House of Representatives and Senate have agreed to commit $130 million over three years — $50 million of that during the fiscal year that starts July 1 — to The Jackson Laboratory toward its development of a third campus near Naples, Fla., that would specialize in personalized medicine.

That commitment has been written into the compromise $69 billion budget that the state House and Senate are expected to approve on Friday. The measure will require the signature of Gov. Charlie Crist, who is now running for US Senate.

Leaders of the chambers' appropriations committees added the $130 million to the state's Innovation Incentive Fund on Monday. The $130 million is part of a $380 million economic incentive package for Jackson Lab, technically an amendment by state Sen. Garrett Richter (R-Naples) to the state Senate's version of the budget.

The package requires an equal $130 million from Collier County, where officials have verbally committed to assisting the lab, as well as another $120 million from Jackson Lab, which has said it will raise that money from supporters in and outside the community through a philanthropic campaign.

While Jackson Lab is not mentioned by name, it is understood to be the beneficiary of the economic incentive package, which says the money will be used "to fund the development of a research institute focused on genetics and personalized medicine."

The earmark contrasts with the House's original plan to set aside for Jackson Lab $50 million of a total $119 million that the chamber originally approved for economic development projects statewide.

The laboratory has identified a potential site for the campus, namely 50 acres owned by developer Barron Collier Cos., co-developer of the nearby Ave Maria mixed-use master planned community. Jackson Lab has projected its Florida campus will employ about 200 people, a workforce size expected to be reached three to four years after the facility opened.

Richard Woychik, president and CEO of the Jackson Lab, said in a statement the promise of state funding was "an important first step" in advancing the Florida campus, and that the budget, if signed by Crist, "will be an essential vote of confidence that will help us attract the institutional partnerships and the matching funds we would need for the project to proceed."

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