Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Health care propels Nashville economy

Without Nashville's signature health-care industry, roughly 211,000 residents would have to find work elsewhere, $1.2 billion in state and local taxes could be lost and nearly 31 million square feet of office space might go vacant.
The industry's economic impact grew to $29.2 billion in 2008, according to a study being released today by the Nashville Health Care Council. That was up 60 percent from $18.3 billion when the same researchers from Middle Tennessee State University did a similar study four years ago.

"What it shows is that we have a creative, entrepreneurial industry that we should be proud of," Mayor Karl Dean said. "It's without question an incredible engine for us."

The study, which took a year to complete at a cost of $18,000, found that every dollar that the health-care industry drops into the local economy creates about 74 cents in additional revenues for other businesses. That includes employees' purchases of various goods and services and transactions among related businesses.

More than 250 health-care companies have operations in Nashville, plus 300 professional services firms with deep ties to the industry — a list that includes many law firms, accountants' offices, and architectural and engineering outfits.

Murat Arik, lead researcher for the project and associate director of MTSU's Business and Economic Research Center, said one of the few health-care shortcomings is the need for a stronger presence of life sciences and pharmaceutical companies.

Nashville is home to many large hospital chains, both for-profit and not-for-profit, and that sector has been a magnet for venture capital and other investments through the years.

Sam Lynch, chief executive of BioMimetic Therapeutics Inc., a Franklin-based medical products maker, said: "If we could ever figure out a way in Middle Tennessee to really align and leverage the strength and expertise in health-care services with growth of the life sciences, we'd have a tremendous potential to grow life sciences jobs."

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