HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Developers of Medical City at Tradition believe the medical industry can jump start the state's economy at a time when analysts say it's still not meeting its full potential. The project's lead developer is Joe Canizaro. "We're talking about a sustainable industry for our gulf coast frankly," Canizaro said moments after his team released new research about a medical corridor on Highway 67 in Harrison County.
Canizaro and Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant have worked closely with William Carey University and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College to lay the foundation for the Medical City at Tradition project. Canizaro owns the land. William Carey just opened a school of pharmacy. And MGCCC announced plans for a new nursing school.
Two years ago, those entities reached out to the renowned Cleveland Clinic and developed a medical partnership focused on diabetes and obesity research. "We were having the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and I had the opportunity to go by and visit the CEO of the Cleveland Clinic, " Gov. Bryant remembered while talking with attendees of the Governor's Health Care Economic Development Summit in Jackson. "I told him about it and he said I want to thank you for letting us come to Mississippi."
Now, the vision gets bigger. The governor and the developer just released an economic impact analysis of Medical City at Tradition. The study unveiled at a health care summit indicates that within 10 years, expanding Medical City at Tradition can mean 9,400 high-paying jobs, and a two billion dollar economic impact for South Mississippi.
Canizaro laid out his plan to Mississippi legislative leaders on Wednesday night. "As we were leaving dinner, the governor said guys we've got to get this done," said Canizaro. "There is no reason not to. This is something our state has needed. And it's already underway."
William Carey's school of pharmacy is a key piece of that mission. The pharmacy school's dean is Michael Malloy. "To finally have the opportunity to be able to get our feet wet and to really roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty, it's what we're here for," he said.
Tying Malloy's new program to the Cleveland Clinic gives William Carey a significant edge in a competitive industry. "What it does is it lets me say something that most schools of pharmacy can't say," he noted, "that we have an official affiliation with Cleveland Clinic."
The ultimate goal of Medical City at Tradition is for Harrison County, and South Mississippi to become a full-fledged research cluster. That starts with the relationship Mississippi now has with Cleveland Clinic doctors. Gov. Bryant had dinner Wednesday night with one of those physicians. "As we were leaving dinner last night," Gov. Bryant said, "he said you know, we're proud to be in Mississippi. Cleveland Clinic is proud to be here."
For Medical City at Tradition to reach its full potential, state lawmakers will be asked to approve incentives that lure medical investors to Harrison County. The analysts say companies like Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Allergan and Merck are potential targets for state leaders go after. Those researchers also say their analysis indicates Medical City at Tradition will make a visible difference in Mississippi's health, and it's economy.
According to the study, "Mississippi is ready for a rebound, and while tax cuts for the state that began in 2017 should help pave the way, more could be done for the state to live up to its potential."
The study was prepared by Arduin Laffer & Moore Econometrics (ALME), the University of Southern Mississippi, and the Southern Mississippi Planning and Development District (SMPDD) and includes economic results based on the success of a very similar planned community in Orlando, Florida, known as Lake Nona Medical City.
The study also states, "Mississippi's economy is not meeting its potential, and the Gulf Coast economy is still suffering from the shock of the BP oil spill. The community at Tradition means high-wage, sustainable jobs that will address the economic growth problem in Mississippi as a whole and the Mississippi Gulf Coast specifically".
Tradition is a collaborative cluster for health care and is the largest master-planned community under development in the state of Mississippi, and one of the largest in the country.