Palm Beach County is a cheaper place to run a biotechnology
company than most U.S. cities that have major centers of bioscience
research. But it costs more to operate here than other many
"emerging" markets with which the county will compete for new
That's according to The Boyd Co., a Princeton, N.J., consulting
firm that just released a study on the cost of running a biotech
business with 75,000 square feet of laboratory space and 100
employees in the top 50 biotech markets in the country.
With the building of a Florida laboratory to accommodate The
Scripps Research Institute and the biotech business expected to
follow, Palm Beach County is considered one of the country's
"emerging centers for new biotech investment in the years
immediately ahead," according to the Boyd study.
It put the overall annual cost to operate a biotech firm here at
$9.9 million. That's less than major biotech centers such as San
Francisco; Boston; San Diego; San Jose, Calif.; and Montgomery
County, Md. But it is higher than Research Triangle Park in North
Carolina; Austin, Texas; Phoenix; Birmingham, Ala.; and St.
Before this year, Boyd wouldn't have included Palm Beach County
in the study, which reviewed operating expenses such as leasing
rates, labor costs, corporate travel, the number of workers in the
region with advanced life-science degrees and utility costs.
"It's now considered a location with a precedent for the biotech
industry. Last year, it wouldn't have made the list," said John
Boyd, president of The Boyd Co. "We see Palm Beach County as the
next Research Triangle for biotech."
The factor driving up the cost of doing scientific business in
this county is the steep price of commercial real estate.
For example, the leasing expense for a year was estimated at
nearly $2 million in Palm Beach County, more than most biotech
centers in the Southeast region.
In this region, only Fairfax County in northern Virginia had
higher annual leasing costs, $2.1 million.
Lower annual leases on commercial space can be found in
Montgomery County, $1.8 million; in Birmingham; Memphis, $1.5
million; and in Raleigh/Durham, N.C., $1.4 million.
"In Palm Beach County, we don't have a large inventory of
available (leasing) rates," said Gary Hines, executive vice
president of the Business Development Board of Palm Beach
Still, Palm Beach County has one major advantage that only a
handful of the top markets can boast, and no others are in the
"Companies are looking for a competitive edge in recruiting the
top scientists, and the lack of a personal income tax is a big
carrot they can offer," Boyd said.