Midcity campus to help anchor education corridor
For more than a century, Baton Rouge General’s Midcity campus has driven economic activity in the area, creating jobs and spinning off medical services businesses. The hospital’s role is expected to continue to grow, with the facility anchoring an education corridor in a proposed urban renewal district.
The combination of the midcity campus, Baton Rouge Community College and their potential relationship offer great potential, said John Fregonese, a planning consultant helping the city-parish implement a masterplan for the city.
Hospitals draw clusters of medical services companies, such as clinics and imaging centers, and housing for employees. Lower property prices might make it easier to establish medical offices there rather than in the medical corridor in south Baton Rouge.
“When this neighborhood starts taking off, it’s going to be easier and more successful to locate that kind of industry,” Fregonese said.
The FutureBR plan calls for creating a Midcity tax increment financing district that will use additional tax revenue to pay for improvements in the area.
To further those redevelopment efforts, the General hired consultants Tripp Umbach to do an economic impact study of the Midcity campus, said Dionne Viator, executive vice president and chief business development officer for General Health System, the hospital’s parent company.
The hospital employs 1,955 people, who generate additional economic activity. In Midcity, the hospital’s annual economic impact is estimated at $18.7 million and 232 additional jobs. In the Baton Rouge area, the total is $162.2 million and 1,358 jobs. Statewide, the total rises to $290.3 million and 2,483 jobs.
Tripp Umbach’s model includes spending by the hospital, staff, physicians, medical residents and fellows, medical and other health sciences students, patients outside the hospital, visitors and successive rounds of re-spending.
The Midcity campus also educates and trains around 500 medical students. Those include Tulane medical school students, Tulane and LSU residents, nurses, pharmacists, physician assistants, certified registered nurse anesthetists and radiation technologists.
After completing their training, each medical school graduate generates roughly $1.5 million in the state’s economy and six full-time jobs, according to the report. The total annual impact of the General’s graduating physicians is more than $63 million and 232 jobs.
The medical education totals are over and above the General’s operating impacts.
Add in the students at Baton Rouge Community College, just down Florida Boulevard, and its easy to see why the FutureBR master plan saw the opportunity to create an education corridor.
Walter Mounsour, CEO of the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority, said the Midcity hospital is a tremendous hub of economic activity: providing jobs, medical services and a good bit of tax revenue.
“Clearly the Midcity campus of Baton Rouge General is a beacon that needs to remain lit,” Monsour said.
Monsour said the RDA has an idea of the boundaries for the proposed tax increment financing district, but the details must be negotiated with the mayor and the city-parish’s finance department.
The city-parish must walk a fine line in creating any successful tax increment financing district while protecting the city’s ability to grow its tax base, he said.
But the recently announced Ardendale development, which includes BRCC’s Center for Excellence in Auto Technology and the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board’s Career Academy, will complement the General’s education efforts.
Sam Sanders, executive director of the Mid City Redevelopment Alliance, said the General’s Midcity campus is, and always has been, seen as an anchor for the area.
He has been encouraged by the hospital’s expansion of services, such as the burn unit and establishing a seniors emergency room. The alliance helped link the General with AARP, which was looking to partner in Midcity.
Today, the AARP’s partnership with the General on the senior ER is unique in the area, Sanders said.
Viator said the General, which has championed Midcity for decades, is excited about the area’s possibilities. The hospital launched the Mid City Redevelopment Alliance 23 years ago, helping to organize Midcity merchants and improve home values in the 1,000-block area.
The General commissioned the economic impact study after watching Earl K. Long Medical Center and Greater Baton Rouge Surgical Hospital close in north Baton Rouge, Viator said. The General’s administration wondered how that would affect access to care in north Baton Rouge and Midcity.
Eventually, the discussion turned to the Midcity campus’s economic impact.
“We wanted to see continued support for the economic impact of the Midcity region, and recognition of its importance overall,” Viator said.