Text size

Health care zone plans submitted

health-care-summit
Canton Mayor Arnel Bolden speaks during the Governor's Health Care Economic Development Summit on Thursday in Jackson. / Joe Ellis/The Clarion-Ledger

Gov. accepts 11 counties' submissions
By Jeff Ayres | Clarion-Ledger | August 15, 2013

Gov. Phil Bryant's desire to create health care economic-development zones throughout Mississippi took an important step forward Thursday.

 

Growing Mississippi's health care industry can't truly happen until Medicaid is expanded, something Bryant has vehemently resisted, says Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran. Doing so would create thousands of jobs in itself, she said, and would provide health care access to 300,000 additional people in Mississippi.

"We're already experiencing negative consequences," she said, noting several Coast hospitals have had to make layoffs because Medicaid hasn't widened, plus the ongoing recession.
 


 

The governor officially accepted health care zone master plans from Madison County and 11 other counties as part of a day-long health care economic-development summit at the Jackson Convention Complex.

The zones generally include areas in a five-mile radius of a hospital or a college or university that features medical studies in its curriculum. Incentives are offered to medical businesses that locate in the zones. Affordable housing is a part of the plans, too, to reduce the length of commutes for health care workers.

"It's going to take some time, but we're going to accomplish great things. We have to," Bryant said, adding more jobs will mean better capability to tackle obesity, diabetes and other ailments that plague the state's population.

Bryant also accepted plans from Panola, Copiah, Noxubee, Clarke, Clay, Yazoo, Humphreys, Scott, Hancock, Montgomery and Marshall counties.

Bryant has made growing Mississippi's health care industry a key facet of his agenda. He signed into law last year the Mississippi Health Care Industry Zone Act, an incentives program for companies in the industry that invest at least $10 million and/or create at least 25 jobs. The legislation was reworked this year to allow zones in areas with a need for at least 375 collective acute-care beds across three contiguous counties.

Companies that locate in the zones would qualify for incentives like an accelerated, 10-year income tax depreciation deduction, sales tax exemptions on materials and equipment and fees paid in lieu of property taxes at a city or county's discretion. Trey Hairston, an adviser to Bryant on the issue, says the effort targets not so much building new hospitals as luring lab companies, medical supplies manufacturers and other types of businesses that support hospitals and clinics.

Each plan had to be crafted by an accredited planning agency. An area's colleges and universities are encouraged to lend research and other expertise.

Madison County's zone would be concentrated on a five-mile radius surrounding Canton's Madison River Oaks Medical Center. A study on the proposed health zone from Canizaro Cawthon Davis and Orion Planning Group indicates the population in that area grew by 5.6 percent from 2009 to 2010, easily outpacing the state's population growth in that time. The report states Canton has five major medical facilities in addition to the hospital, and almost two dozen health care facilities in Ridgeland and Madison are nearby.

An estimated 3,786 jobs would be created under Madison County's plan, with annual wages totaling more than $100 million per year. The report proposes creating an overlay district specific to health care in that area.

Canton Mayor Arnel Bolden said a health zone is the natural next step for a city already strong in manufacturing with Nissan and an established presence in the filmmaking industry.

"With so much opportunity at our doorstep, we definitely look forward to diversifying our economic portfolio. Health care can be an economic driver," he said.

Tim Coursey, executive director of the Madison County Economic Development Authority, says the area already boasts a workforce skilled in advanced manufacturing, the Panther Creek economic development "megasite" that could host a company willing to hire hundreds of people and a quality county school system that creates an ideal environment for medical companies.

But growing Mississippi's health care industry can't truly happen until Medicaid is expanded, something Bryant has vehemently resisted, says Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran. Doing so would create thousands of jobs in itself, she said, and would provide health care access to 300,000 additional people in Mississippi.

"We're already experiencing negative consequences," she said, noting several Coast hospitals have had to make layoffs because Medicaid hasn't widened, plus the ongoing recession.

Bryant has said expanding the program would be too costly for Mississippi, noting $32 million in new Medicaid spending is coming next year with the program at its current size because of health care reform.

Justin Hall of the Marshall County Industrial Development Authority sees great potential for his county's plan, noting Marshall County is part of the Memphis Metropolitan Statistical Area, where I-269 is under construction to improve traffic flow and commute times. "We're 30 minutes from Memphis, (near) Tupelo, Northwest Mississippi Community College," he said.

A plan to create a medical corridor involving hospitals and clinics in Jackson between I-55 and I-220 predates the health care zone legislation.

Connect with Connie!

 
 

 

 
volunteer
contact-connie
signup-for-email
Register to Vote
follow-connie-on-facebook
follow-connie-on-twitter
follow-connie-on-youtube

Campaign Points

Connie-Moran-For-PSCClick to enlarge and download.

Connie Moran on Facebook

 
 

Connie Moran on the Campaign Trail

Frontpage Slideshow | Copyright © 2006-2011 JoomlaWorks Ltd.