Max Planck Florida, lured to Palm Beach County by millions in taxpayer incentives, is getting closer to meeting its job creation requirement, according to an annual progress report to the county.
Palm Beach County committed about $87 million of taxpayer money toward building a local branch of Germany-based research institute and the state chipped in about $94 million.
The Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience in Jupiter currently employees 118 people, with an average salary of $68,943, according to the report. Max Planck Florida’s incentive package requires it to employee at least 135 employees by 2015.
The county and state invested more than $600 million in luring Scripps to Palm Beach County with the hopes of fostering a high-tech, biotech industry hub that would eventually attract spin-off businesses and thousands of additional jobs.
Critics say that after 10 years, Scripps has been slow to deliver the biotech boom once expected to bring a host of new jobs to Palm Beach County.
But local officials and business leaders contend that the biotech, bioscience investment in Scripps and Max Planck are on track and were always going to take 20 to 30 years to show larger economic dividends.
“These things do work, but they take time,” Max Planck Florida Scientific Director and CEO David Fitzpatrick said. “With great science will come the spinoff companies.”
Max Planck Florida specializes in the study of the brain, hoping to development better treatments for neurological and psychiatric disorders including: Alzheimer’s, autism, epilepsy, ADHD and Parkinson’s disease.
A part of the incentive package calls for Max Planck to provide 3 percent of its net royalties to science-related education programs in Palm Beach County, but it has yet to start generating royalties.
Max Planck Florida has formed education collaborations with local schools as well as conducted workshops and other scientific training for teachers.
On Tuesday, Max Planck Florida’s leaders and about two dozen white-lab-coat-clad representatives attended the County Commission meeting to deliver the update on the research institute’s progress.
After Fitzpatrick told commissioners that Max Planck was “thrilled” to be in Palm Beach County, the group’s representatives all stood up and applauded the County Commission.
“Scripps didn’t do that,” County Mayor Steven Abrams joked.