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Medical center generates $1B for local, state economy

Hospital leaders predict continued growth of economic ripple effect

POSTED: May 28, 2012 12:50 a.m.

Northeast Georgia Medical Center has a substantial impact on the local and state economy, about $1 billion worth, according to the Georgia Hospital Association.

The association released a report calculating the hospital has generated $1,034,788,975 in revenue for the local and state economy.

It stated that the medical center had direct expenditures of almost $450 million in 2010, and using an economic multiplier developed by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the economic impact throughout the state topped $1 billion.

That multiplier measures the “ripple” effect the hospital has on other economic sectors, including medical supplies, equipment and pharmaceuticals.

And the impact, economic and health care leaders say, is likely to continue to grow in Hall County.

“As health care continues to evolve and the care model changes over course of time, I think you will continue to see it be very predominant here,” said Carol Burrell, president and CEO of Northeast Georgia Health System.

The medical center is the No. 1 employer in the county with more than 5,000 employees, about 70 percent of whom live in Hall County.

The report said around 10,700 full-time jobs, throughout the state, were also sustained as a direct result of the
medical center.

Burrell said through its benefits plan, there are about 25,000 people who look to Hall County for medical and living needs.

“If you look at our growth over the past 10 years or so, it really is phenomenal,” said Burrell.

Local economic leaders have taken notice.

“You’ve seen, particularly in the past five years, health care rise to the top in terms of job creation,” said Kit Dunlap, Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce president and CEO. “That sector has been pretty steady in creating jobs, particularly in this community and this region.”

Dunlap said health care, as a whole, is an integral part of the community’s economy, but the marriage between the medical sector, manufacturing and poultry puts Hall County in a unique position to keep attracting various types of industry.

“I think we’re an example of where that really works,” said Dunlap. “Our health care industry is booming, but manufacturing is still very strong, and poultry is, too.”

A strong medical community, Burrell said, can act as an attractor for other business as well.

“I think we’re very much a catalyst,” she said. “When companies are looking to relocate, health care and school systems are usually the two top things they look at.”

Also highlighted in the report is the more than $42 million the medical center provided in uncompensated care in 2010, along with the $4.3 million spent in community outreach, like free health screenings and education.

But the hospital, officials said, is just one part of the medical community.

Melissa Tymchuk, the system’s director of marketing and public relations, said the report did not take into account the private sector of the medical community.

“If you were to do a study to look at health care as a whole, it would certainly be larger than what we see here,” she said.

The system is building a $180 million facility in Braselton that will employ about 600, to start. The opening is slated for 2015.

“We continue to add other sites in the region,” said Burrell. “I think it’s also worthwhile to remember that any of the income we receive here is reinvested back into the community.”


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