EDITORIAL

Editorial: Medical Main Street is route to more jobs

TDN

Medical Main Street is more than just a catchy phrase. It encompasses the diverse health care and medical related companies and services available in Oakland County. Together, they’re working to make the county the center of health care in southeast Michigan.

That means more job opportunities and health care options for residents.

The goal is simple. Showcase the varied health care industries in the county and help them prosper and expand. These include hospitals, health care givers and firms that service them and companies that produce high-tech medical equipment and supplies.

County Executive L. Brooks Patterson says the initiative hopes to make Oakland County an international destination not only for patients seeking quality health care, but for companies that provide services and supplies to medical facilities.

It was Patterson’s idea to create the marketing organization because of the strong health care base already in place in Oakland County. Since it was established in 2008, Medical Main Street has brought in more than $927 million in investment and created more than 5,000 jobs.

Half of the 15 largest employers in Oakland County are hospitals. Beaumont, with its sprawling campuses, is the largest overall employer with about 12,000 full-time staffers. That figure will change with its recent merger with Oakwood and Botsford hospitals.

Oakland County also is a major health care and life science center, employing more than 100,000 workers in these related industries.

As Patterson said in his state of the county address earlier this year, “we clearly are a destination for world-class health care, for leading-edge life science research, and for excellence in medical device manufacturing.”

What is noteworthy is that Medical Main Street — like its counterpart, Automation Alley — could become a regional concept. Automation Alley started in Oakland but now encompasses eight southeast Michigan counties in the promotion of high-tech industries.

Facilities in Oakland County, such as Beaumont, have branches in adjacent counties, and hospitals such as Henry Ford in Wayne County have centers in Oakland.

If nothing else, the Great Recession confirmed that Michigan was far too dependent on the manufacturing industry.

While the auto companies have rebounded, the state still needs to diversify its economy. The best way is to build on what already is here.

Southeast Michigan has world class hospitals and a medical industry ripe for expansion. For example, the University of Michigan hospital system is contributing to a bio-sciences boom in Ann Arbor.

Health care spending is expected to continue to soar.

Preparing Michigan’s communities and workers to exploit the boom makes good sense.