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Thursday, March 13, 2008

OHSU Florida

A while back, we noted that OHSU was finally creating some biotech jobs -- but they're all in Florida! (And we were not making that up.)

But it gets even more interesting, as deal after deal is quietly made back there, way out of the eye of the Oregon public. Check out this letter to the editor of a St. Petersburg paper -- scroll down to "Institute is good for Florida."

None of the dollars for this project will "flow out of state," as the Times' headline breathlessly reports. Instead, the money will be invested in a new Florida nonprofit - a corporation that will create jobs in Florida and drive increasing scientific investment in Florida. The Oregon Health & Science University, in fact, has voluntarily prohibited any sharing of local funding with VGTI Florida.
Wow, that's reassuring to us folks out here in Stumptown who have dropped a half-billion bucks (so far) building the SoWhat District, where all the OHSU biotech goodies were supposedly going to go. Oh, well. The lies sounded pretty.

Across the bay from St. Pete, in the Tampa paper, there's more on the deal, including these highlights:

Economic development officials predict the creation of OHSU's VGTI-Florida will generate 1,466 jobs over 20 years. The facility and spinoff ventures will produce $4.2 billion in economic activity in Florida. The laboratory plans on studying immunity issues that come with aging, with Florida providing a vast supply of retirees to study....

Larry Pelton, president of the Economic Development Council of St. Lucie County and a key negotiator in this and Florida's other biotech incentive awards, says no money from Florida will revert to Oregon and any spinoff companies that emerge out of the laboratory will stay in Florida.

Fascinating reading material, that is. If it matters to Oregonians, it's in The Tampa Tribune.

Comments (13)

They're as blinded by the biotech job puffery as we were. OHSU and the spinoff ventures will go wherever the money is. They'll experience the same disappointment over their "$4.2 billion" estimate as we did with will our "10,000 jobs" estimate.

Set up a satellite campus as a non-profit bio-tech research institute in Florida. Why, because doing so taps city and state tax dollars not available to Florida Universities. Sweet and opportunistic as hell. The Florida tax payers aren't happy because the royalties from drugs created by the lab go to OHSU in Oregon. The jobs related to building and operating the satellite stay in Florida. So, what incentive would convince the University to build their bio-tech facility in Oregon? $118 million dollars in tax incentives. It's all about the money. This quasi public/private University has no loyalty to this state when it comes to development dollars and apparently bio-tech jobs.

This is so rich.
The BS throughout the "Oregon Opportunity-OHSU-Biotech-Tram-SoWa schemes is essentially today's corruption. With all the elites and hierarchy fully insulated and living large. Those family vacations around the globe must be wondeful.


Promise them anything, but pilfer what you need.

My bet? If you raise the hue and cry on this, OHSU's stance will be..."Hey, Oregon does nothing to stimulate economic growth in biotechnology, so we're going where we can help. Once Oregon gets it's act together, like Florida, then we can talk."

From OHSU's documents, it certainly looks as though it got involved because the state of Florida invited them. They then list a clutch of big scientific research institutions which were also invited...like Scripps, Mayo and whatnot. This, of course, set off my alarms....Did OHSU get stuck with something that other research institutes wouldn't touch?

I want a do-over.

OHSU mismanagement had them build a costly research building on the hill, plunge into the coslty Tram/SoWa crap shoot and risk their entire operation.

What they could have done is do exactly what Florida did by using the OHSU OGI, VGTI and Primate Center which was already forming a cluster.
And they could have done it incrementaly with fiscally sound judgement while keeping secure their core missions.

Make no mistake about it the way they went has enriched many involved. At the expense of OHSU and everthing depending on it's solvency.

Yeah, but you see, they're betting on the state bailing out the only health science institution of higher education in the state. Insolvent, we'd have none.

Plus, it's also the locale of most of the state's indigent care. The other hospitals will probably act to keep it in business (meaning apply political pressure), if for no other reason than to minimize to poor darkening their doors.

Great. Now we have to build a transcontinental tram.

Not a transcontinental tram-a transcontinental tram for the shame of it.

OOOpps. Not a transcontinental tram-a transcontinental tunnel for the shame of it.

At today's SoWhat URAC meeting, here is still the thinking of staff from PDOT. They are in the process of developing the "Transportation Development Strategy". Of course, transportation planning and implementation is to occur before/current development-but not here in METRO land.

So after three years since the URAC requested the necessity of thinking about transportation consequences outside of SoWhat and how it affects the city, and finally the preliminary studies are available today.

PDOT notes that SoWhat has and will increase "bottlenecks" in several places: top three 1) Ross Island Bridge, 2) 405 Freeway, 3)North Portal at RiverPlace; and the list goes on. The study only includes the immediate edges of SoWhat and not to areas like Sellwood Bridge or Barbur, etc.

What relates so well to this post are the premises that PDOT is still using for this study. They are still counting on 15,000 jobs and 6,000 housing units.

The first power point for solutions were bike ways. After presentation of all the bike, ped, vehicle projects to help handle the bottlenecks (like tunnels under I-5 for pedestrians, 405 freeway reconfigurations, etc.), a likely bill could reach $4 to $5 BILLION. This is only for the adjacent projects. All these billions are in addition to the now $582 MILLION that it will cost in fed, state, and UR dollars to execute the present projects just within the boundaries of SoWhat. The maximum TIF (tax increment financing) tax dollars that can be used for this debt from SoWhat property tax increases is $289M.

So the citizens of Portland have a tremendous debt just for the consequences of SoWhat.

Is it worth it?

"We bought the son of a bitch and then he didn't stay bought."

- Henry Clay Frick

"Son, if you can't take their money, drink their whiskey, screw their women, and then vote against 'em, you don't deserve to be here."

-Sam Rayburn

"Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys."

-P.J. O'Rourke


And deferred maintenance is in the future of the tram. *rimshot*

I think we need outside help (oh no, not more consultants!!!) that will fairly ask and audit the above question "Is it worth it?".
Urban renewal, especially in SoWhat, needs to be analyzed for its real cost and benefit ratio. There are several books and reports about other cities that demonstrates the economic failures of urban renewal. SoWhat could be a future example.

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