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Cleveland And Nashville Downplay Race To Build Med Mart

Friday, January 29, 2010 at 6:00 AM

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Last week the city council in Nashville Tennessee approved building a nearly 600-million dollar convention center, clearing the old one for construction of a privately financed medical mart similar to the publically funded one Cleveland hopes for its downtown. So, the race is on in earnest to see who will be first to actually open a medical mart. Opinions vary though as to how significant being first really is. Ideastream's Bill Rice reports.

Right now it looks like New York will have the “first to market advantage.” It’s med mart is slated to open next year while both Cleveland and Nashville are banking on 2013.  That being the case, the latter two are downplaying the race and instead playing up what they see as their respective communities’ assets that they believe will give them the competitive edge.  Here’s Nashville Mayor Karl Dean. 

Dean:  “Unlike New York and Cleveland, which are great cities, I’m very fond of both of those places, Nashville is the health care capital of the united states. We are the silicon valley of healthcare. This is the exact right place for this to be.”

Nashville’s medical credentials are impressive - it’s home to two hospital management companies that operate more than 60 percent of hospitals in the country, as well as the well-known Vanderbilt University Medical Center and medical School, and the nation’s largest private historically black medical school - Meharry Medical College. 

But Cleveland’s medical standing is also impressive - with its bragging rights OF BEING HOME to the INTERNATIONALLY RENOWNED Cleveland Clinic and the medical industry that’s grown up around it.  Cuyahoga County Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones says it would be nice to be the first over the finish line in opening a medical mart, but if we don’t…

Jones:  “I think the world - and certainly the nation can - stand to have 2 such facilities and both can be successful, but I think that given all the advantages we have, have the potential to be more successful than either a medical mart in Nashville or one in New York City.”

One big advantage Jones sees is a financing mechanism that’s already in place, courtesy of a 20-year, one-quarter percent sales tax implemented in 2007 specifically for the med mart.  While the Nashville council has given the go-ahead on their project, the private investment they’re counting on is far from certain. 

County officials and developer MMPI say they hope to break ground on the Cleveland med mart in October. 

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Economy, Regional Economy/Business - News, Government/Politics, Health

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