Coast ‘medical city’ at Tradition one step closer

A so-called “medical city,” which officials say will usher in thousands of jobs and educate thousands more, is one step closer to reality.

Officials gathered Thursday to announce the Cleveland Clinic will now team up with the National Diabetes & Obesity Research Institute, but they had bigger things on their mind.

The partnership is a brick in the foundation of what Gov. Phil Bryant and others said will ultimately become a “learning and medical city” built in the Tradition community of Harrison County.

“This will have a significant economic impact on not just the Gulf Coast and state, but the surrounding region,” he said.

The medical city concept is modeled after the Lake Nona Medical City concept in Florida. Tradition developer Joseph Canizaro and Bryant toured the campuses of Lake Nona, as well as Houston’s Texas Medical Center and MD Anderson Cancer Center, for inspiration and background.

Projects listed for the Tradition Town Center site, which is just east of William Carey University:

▪ The National Diabetes & Obesity Research Institute plans to open a research facility at Tradition. It is expected to be completed by 2018. Canizaro is funding it.

▪ Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College started construction in June on a new nursing school and simulation center. MGCCC is paying for the building with state bonds.

▪ Memorial Hospital at Gulfport plans a clinic there, which it will fund.

▪ William Carey plans to have its School of Pharmacy up and running by 2018, funded via a RESTORE Act grant and private donations.

▪ Private developers will build student housing, retail and restaurants.

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves made a connection between the health of a community and its economy.

“What’s good for the health of the Coast is good for the economy of the Coast,” he said.

“Today, we’re celebrating not only the location of the National Diabetes & Obesity Research Institute to the Mississippi Gulf Coast,” MGCCC President Mary Graham said, “but the continued economic impact that investment will have on South Mississippi, especially here in Tradition.”

Mississippi is at the center of a diabetes and obesity epidemic in the United States. One in five Mississippians have diabetes, more than any other state. The state’s population is also consistently ranked among the most obese in the country.

The Cleveland Clinic and the National Diabetes & Obesity Research Institute will work in tandem to research diabetes and obesity-related issues.

“My mother died of diabetes and my father had it,” Bryant said. “I saw the suffering it brings.

“Diabetes research, it’s personal to me.”