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Med Mart Finally Breaks Ground

Governor Kasich at the Med Mart groundbreaking
Governor Kasich at the Med Mart groundbreaking

Cuyahoga County residents have been paying a quarter percent sales tax to pay for it. The merits of the nearly half billion dollar Medical Mart have been debated for years. But at today’s downtown groundbreaking, leaders were promising a lot from it, saying it could be a jolt to Northeast Ohio’s economy. New Governor John Kasich:

KASICH: Maybe this is what can get us jumpstarted, to make Cleveland as great as it can possibly be.

This is Cuyahoga County’s new executive Ed FitzGerald.

FITZGERALD: Not only is it going to be a project that puts on the map nationally, but internationally.

And, Chris Kennedy, president of Chicago-based Merchandise Mart Properties, which will run the new center.

KENNEDY: This facility is becoming an economic engine that is revitalizing Cleveland, changing its reputation, rebranding its image, and supporting its rebirth.

That’s a lot of pressure on one development. Only Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson lowered expectations a bit.

JACKSON: Even though it’s not a panacea, it’s an essential part of what we plan to do for downtown Cleveland.

One indicator of the Medical Mart’s potential success will be so-called anchor tenants: big names with a big presence that can attract visitors and smaller companies to the space. Chris Kennedy didn’t announce any anchors today, but he did release a long list of companies and trade shows that have committed to the center. Most are local firms like Lorain County’s Invacare and Mentor’s Steris Corporation. JB Silvers of Case Western Reserve University says that’s a start.

SILVERS: If you can’t get good local support then you’re never going to get national support, so this is a precursor to the rest of it.

With construction underway, the 235,000 square foot Medical Mart is expected to open in the fall of 2013. Nashville hopes to open a competing facility the same year. For Changing Gears, I’m Dan Bobkoff.

David C. Barnett was a senior arts & culture reporter for Ideastream Public Media. He retired in October 2022.