ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - More than a billion dollars in tax money has been spent to create Medical City at Lake Nona after the land was donated by the Tavistock Group. A decade after the first construction began, how is it going? At the time when the decision was made to build Medical City, we were told that giving these tax dollars would create other medical and bio sciences companies relocating to be in this new cluster.
In terms of tax dollars, Sanford Burnham Prebys was given $310 million in state and local incentives. The VA Hospital will cost more than 660 million dollars in federal money, and UCF got more than 100 million to build its medical school. We asked Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer if that promise of a medical cluster is being kept. He says it sure is.
"Maybe we would have liked it to happen a couple of years earlier than it is, but it is something that is not a one year investment. It's a long term investment for our community."
Only one major company jumped on board without tax dollars. Nemours built a $380 million dollar children's hospital without tax money. We asked Founding President Roger Oxendale why?
"That really is the start of what I think will have us be a great teaching institution here, and great partnerships, again, with the other players that are here in Medical City."
Oxendale told us that Nemours would have never selected Orlando without the medical cluster being built because that's what the top doctors demand.
"Not only were we able to recruit and treat children for whatever disease they have, but also the physicians and other staff that we would be bringing had a focus in research and in teaching, and so the Medical City was the perfect venue for that."
A report from the Milliken Institute for Seminole County before Medical City was built claimed there would be a $1.4 billion dollar economic impact on our Central Florida economy by year 10. That has not happened yet. We asked Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer where the jobs were?
"There will be other entities."
Andres Malave is with the conservative taxpayer advocacy group Americans For Prosperity. Malave says all along AFP has believed taxpayers were being sold a bill of goods.
"Taxpayers absolutely should not be in the business of subsidizing companies coming into the state of Florida and the state of Florida should not be picking winners and losers..... whether it is with a soccer stadium or a medical park, or whatever project government tries to get involved in, it's not always going to work out, and that's just because government isn't the best investor of taxpayer dollars, taxpayers are."