Above: From left, are Joe Canizaro, president and CEO of Columbus Properties, Dr. Mary S. Graham, MGCCC president, and Gov. Phil Bryant.

On April 8, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College president Dr. Mary S. Graham, joined by Gov. Phil Bryant and other state and local leaders, broke ground on the new Nursing and Simulation Center at the health care zone located on Hwy. 67 at Tradition. This new center, once completed, will double the number of nurses who will graduate from MGCCC’s Associate Degree Nursing program and will provide an easy transition to both the School of Nursing programs at The University of Southern Mississippi and William Carey University through articulation agreements already in place between the institutions.

It will be MGCCC’s 10th location within its four-county district.

“Mississippi’s community colleges play a vital role in strengthening the state’s economy by providing both academic and workforce training. Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, through its world-class nurse education program, also plays a key role in growing the state’s health care industry,” Gov. Bryant said. “The new Nursing and Simulation Center at Tradition will help the state provide cutting-edge training to even more nurses, who will in turn provide health care to more Mississippians. This is a tremendous benefit for the Gulf Coast and for the state as a whole.”

Funding sources for the center include $12 million in Katrina Community Development Block Grant funds (KCDBG funds), $1.5 million in land donation from Tradition, and $2 million from MGCCC for equipment and other project costs.

The Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) will also assist with $3 million in roadway, water and sewer improvements to the county, using Economic Development Highway grant program and Development Infrastructure program (EDH to provide $2.7 million and DIP to provide $300,000). These are funds on hand at MDA for major economic impact projects.  In support of this grant, Columbus Communities LLC (the parent company of Tradition) will donate the rights of way to the county for the roads and utilities to serve MGCCC and student housing. Columbus Communities LLC will also commit to MDA that it will be responsible for causing the Tradition Health Care Industry Zone (created under House Bill 722 in the 2013 Mississippi Legislative Session) to produce a minimum of $70 million in investments in capital improvements over the next 10 years. That time frame is projected to produce 2,500 new, permanent jobs in health care institutions and businesses.

“This is an incredible opportunity for the college and for the people of South Mississippi for several reasons,” Graham said. “Health care is one of the most important development areas for the state and especially South Mississippi, enhancing the business competitiveness of the area and creating both jobs and wealth. It is also important because it allows us to improve the health care of our citizens, bringing Mississippi from the bottom of the health care report card to the top. We are pleased that, with this project, we can continue to offer the best opportunities for success to our students and the people of our district.”

Providing nurses to fill the current and future needs is a key element in making the health care industry viable in the state.  A 2009 study shows that for every one new nurse, more than 22 lives are saved annually; there is an increase in worker productivity by $9,900 per year; $46,000 is saved annually on medical costs; and an increased productivity attributable to decreased length of stay in hospitals was estimated at $2,000 annually.

The Mississippi Health Care Industry Zone Act, is part of the governor’s Mississippi works agenda. The program is designed to provide incentives to qualified applicants of new health care related projects within the state of Mississippi. The health care zone act falls under Blueprint Mississippi, a long-range economic development plan for the state, which has a goal of 4,000 new nurses by the year 2016. The announcement by MGCCC and Tradition is a vital step in meeting that goal.

Architect’s rendering of MGCCC’s planned Nursing and Simulation Center

Other health care statistics include the following:

  • Ten of the top 20 fastest-growing occupations are health care related.
  • The health care and social services sector has grown by 23 percent nationally  (2002-2011) and by 24 percent in Mississippi.
  • On a national level, health care will generate approximately 3.2 million more jobs before 2018.
  • Mississippi hospitals currently employ 60,143 full-time employees – 5.7 percent of statewide total employment. Hospitals also created an additional 34,557 jobs outside of their facilities. The total economic impact of hospital payroll spending is $5.8 billion.
  • Up to 4,880 new nurses will be needed by 2016 to provide inpatient and outpatient care in Mississippi.
  • Based on existing practice patterns, study models suggest the need, by 2016, for 25 additional physician assistants, 430 radiation technologists, 100 general med-techs, and 270 respiratory therapists.

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