A rare win for Port St. Lucie: Orlando biotech lab mulls closing

Moving truck at VGTI Florida's Port St. Lucie lab April 30. Photo by Jeff Ostrowski/The Palm Beach Post

Moving truck at the former VGTI Florida lab in Port St. Lucie in 2015. Photo by Jeff Ostrowski/The Palm Beach Post

Back in 2006, Port St. Lucie officials were bummed to lose a bidding war for the nonprofit Burnham Institute, which went to Orlando with $311 million in state and local money. Turns out Port St. Lucie — so often the patsy in economic development deals — won by losing.

Burnham — now known as Sanford Burnham Prebys — plans to bail from Florida, possibly handing off some of its operations to the University of Florida. It’s another blow to Florida’s billion-dollar bet on biotech, a risky play spearheaded by former Gov. Jeb Bush.

VGTI Florida closed last year, despite $120 million from the city and state. Port St. Lucie also lost millions after unwisely subsidizing animation company Digital Domain Media Group.


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