Medical Corridor: Almost a Plan | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Medical Corridor: Almost a Plan


UMMC will soon begin construction on an eight-story research center, the first piece of a multi-building research park.

The steering committee of the Jackson medical corridor, a proposed project that would stretch the length of Woodrow Wilson Avenue between Interstates 55 and 220, will soon have the first draft of the strategic plan for the project.

Primus Wheeler, executive director of the Jackson Medical Mall, which is located on the corridor, and a member of the steering committee, said Andrew Jenkins and Associates is finalizing the draft, which has been under way for about a year, delivering it to the steering committee by the second week of May.

The committee handles the planning of the project for the more than 40 stakeholders. It originally came together when members realized that several groups, including the Jackson Medical Mall, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center and the municipal airport were working on separate plans for the same area of Jackson.

"We quickly all figured out that none of us were working as a team; we were working in silos," Wheeler said. "So, we thought the best thing to do was to at least put all the plans on the table and see if we could find some synergy among all the plans."

With more than 40 participants, each with separate ideas for the project, the possibility of coming to any agreements appeared impossible. That is why stakeholders created the steering committee.

Wheeler said once Andrew Jenkins and Associates submits the plan, the steering committee will call the stakeholders together again to discuss it.

"I'm sure the strategic plan will go into a whirlwind of emotions and changes at that point," Wheeler said. "We are hoping that we have done enough of the legwork up to this point so folks know kind of where we are going, so there won't be any issues."

State Cuts the Cost
The state House and Senate passed a bill, named the Mississippi Health Care Industry Zone Act, that will help fund the project, as well as cut the cost with sales tax exemptions of building the corridor or any similar projects.

Under the bill, which the House and Senate adopted, the Mississippi Development Authority can declare areas as "health-care zones" if they are within a five-mile radius of a county that has certificates of need of more than 375 acute-care hospital beds or a hospital with a minimum capital investment of $275 million.

Inside these zones, qualified businesses, which include clinics, medical supply manufacturers and retailers and telecommunications companies among others, will be eligible for an accelerated state income-tax depreciation deduction, which will allow businesses to recover the cost of the depreciated value of property such as buildings, machinery, vehicles and other equipment, as well as intangible property such as copyrights and computer software. The accelerated rate will allow a deduction equivalent to a 10-year depreciation instead of the regular one-year rate.

Companies inside the health-care zone can also apply for certain sales tax exemptions and a local ad valorem tax exemption on property, except taxes used for school district purposed and taxes on vehicles used on state highways.

A qualified private company with a minimum capital investment of $100 million can qualify to pay a fee of no less than one-third of its ad valorem levy in lieu of paying ad valorem taxes. The funds will be divided among the municipality, county and school district.

Businesses will receive any awarded tax incentives for a period not to exceed 10 years.

To qualify, eligible businesses must create a minimum of 25 full-time jobs. If they fail to do so, they can lose their tax exemptions after a period of five years.

Once MDA creates a health-care zone, county boards of supervisors or municipality governments can grant tax exemptions.

The bill, which received unanimous approval in both the House and Senate, will take effect July 1 if signed into law. The exemptions will be offered to qualifying businesses that finish construction before July 1, 2017.

The act would make the construction of the medical corridor far more feasible and could help draw in new stakeholders to open health-care-related businesses along the corridor.

"We started (the bill) off thinking (the Jackson corridor) was going to be it, but (Governor Phil Bryant) got involved and said this could be something that we can use all over the state," Wheeler said. "There may be other medical corridors or other medical zones created right in the city of Jackson (or) in Hinds County that may even compete with us.

"We think that we have enough momentum and that we started early enough in the process that ... nobody will have a need to create something different here. Most of the main health-care entities already have businesses along the corridor."

UMMC Expands
While the corridor plan includes expanding some businesses along Woodrow Wilson Avenue, such as the Jackson Medical Mall, and bringing new health-care businesses to the street, the state's largest health-care facility, and the corridor's prime real-estate holder, will expand inside its borders.

Woodrow Wilson Avenue delineates the southern border of the University of Mississippi Medical Center's 164-acre campus, and UMMC has begun internal expansion. Dr. David Powe, associate vice chancellor for administrative affairs and UMMC's chief administrative officer, said there is no reason for the center to build beyond its property.

"We are only at 33-percent capacity here, so we have 66 percent of growth capacity here if we use all the space," Powe said. "Of course, we don't want to use all the space, because we want to keep a lot of the green space."

UMMC, the state's only medical research facility, will soon begin construction of an eight-story facility that will be the first piece of a research park. The park will eventually extend to the former farmers market area on Woodrow Wilson Avenue, which UMMC recently began renovating.

The medical center is also in the process of renovating the former Schimmel's Restaurant building on North State Street across from the UMMC campus. Once it is ready, the children's development center and clinic will move there from its current location in the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children.

No One Pushed Out
Wheeler and Powe both said that no one who owns a business or home in the location of the proposed health-care corridor will be pushed out. The purpose of the project, Powe said, is to enhance and beautify the community and to bring in more resources to encourage more people to live in the area.

"The communities along this corridor are very important to the building of a medical corridor," Powe said.

"We are looking at enhancements, not moving people, not impacting them in a negative way, but to build a corridor there that is conducive for not only the medical community, but also to the four communities that are located along that drive."

Previous Comments


This will be a huge boost for Jackson, the metro and the state. Think of all the high-paying jobs and new jobs overall will be brought here.

golden eagle

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