Layoffs at Boca defense contractor do not shake confidence of FAU R&D Park leaders

BOCA RATON, Fla. - City leaders in Boca Raton are mourning the loss of 25 jobs at Predator Systems Inc.

Their parent company, New Jersey-based Curtiss-Wright, says orders from the Pentagon have shrunk.

"It's no secret," said spokesman Jim Ryan.

But the head of FAU's Research and Development Park - which houses Predator - says government money is paying us all back many times over in the form of new jobs and innovation.

"We're doing well overall," said R&D Park president Andrew Duffell.

Dan Cane co-founded Modernizing Medicine three years ago.

Unless you're a doctor - you're not going to use his iPad app.

"We can rotate. We can pinch and zoom. We can go to any layer of the body," said Cane.

But you might benefit from what Modernizing Medicine does. Two thousand doctors have bought their program.

"All they need to do is touch, they'll touch a condition, the findings will show up," said Cane.

And now, Modernizing Medicine, one of 23 companies at FAU's R&D park, is creating jobs and boosting our economy. 

127 people work there now, and they're blasting down the walls to make room for a thousand new employees in five years.

"We're about to launch plastic surgery, orthopedics," said Cane.

They're one of three companies lured to the R&D park by $110,000 in tax incentives from the city of Boca.

In return, the three companies have promised taxpayers 155 jobs.

"These are relatively low-level fiscal investments by the city of Boca. But the return is astronomical," said Duffell.

Yes, today's layoffs cost 25 jobs.

But in a year, the park overall has grown by 168 jobs to 952.

The median salary is around $70,000.

"The ripple effect throughout the economy is substantial," said Duffell.

It's all a cycle. Being in the FAU park helps Modernizing Medicine attract employees - even when it seems like they can't hire them fast enough.

"All of my employees get the benefits of being on campus. Not only dining and bookstore, but athletic facilities, the gym, we attend sporting events," said Duffell.

The first employee of Modernizing Medicine was a PhD. who had just graduated.

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