New nursing school to be built at Tradition

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Mississippi is facing a nursing shortage. But a new public-private partnership could soon reverse that trend. Wednesday at Tradition in Harrison County, the announcement was made that will have a major impact on health care on the coast for years to come.

Harrison County Supervisor Connie Rockco said it best.  "We are expanding Gulf Coast Community College and it's opening a campus in Tradition. How exciting is that," Rockco exclaimed.

With those words, a $12 million project to build a school of nursing at Tradition was unveiled.  Katrina recovery money will be used to build the school on land donated to the school by Tradition. That land is valued at $1.5 million.

Tradition will also invest $12 million more in student housing on the property. Joe Canizaro is the founder of Tradition.

"We are dedicated, committed, and you heard it, passionate about creating a sustainable health care learning and commercial economic engine for our Gulf Coast and state," Canizaro said.

This partnership will solve a big problem, according to Governor Phil Bryant.

"We need over 4,000 nurses. 4,880 nurses by 2016 in addition to the nurses that we're graduating now. This new school will be able to enroll 800 nurses," Bryant explained.

Those nurses need to learn medical skills.  Dr. Mary Graham is the president of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.

"The critical piece to successful health care is great training, workforce training. A trained workforce in the health care industry," Graham said.

This new initiative could be just the beginning of something even bigger. Representative Philip Gunn is the speaker of the House.

"This is going to produce a minimum of $70 million in investment over the next five to ten years, and produce potentially 2,500 new jobs in the state of Mississippi," Gunn said.

For Joe Canizaro, the decision to help is personal in a state that leads the nation in diabetes.

"As a diabetic myself, have a personal passion in working together to advance the treatment and prevention of this disease."

As part of the agreement, the college will provide $2 million to purchase equipment and supplies for the new facility.

Officials with the college hope to break ground on the school of nursing in the early part of next year, and begin enrolling students by the Fall semester of 2015.

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