This is 3 of 3 posts about still nascent Stillwater Business Park. I hadn’t given it much thought until the recent firing of the sales broker, which I regarded as a bit unfair. He tried for years to sell our shovel ready park with no demand in a downturn. And now that the economy is improving, he gets the ax. Too much blame for the lack of results on the agent, and not enough reflection on what it is we have to offer. Anyway, this has now officially turned into a bit of a rant. So I want to preface the rest with the clear admission to all reading that this is Just My Opinion, and carries no more more weight than Your Equally Valid Opinion.
Using insight provided by years of hindsight, I expect many might now agree building Stillwater Business Park without a tenant was ill considered. However, there’s no question, none whatsoever, that it could be a “game changer” as EDC Director Mark Lascelles puts it, should it build out. But what if it never builds out?
Even if they came, I argued that the types of enterprises Stillwater was designed to lure are mostly boom/bust propositions. Types of businesses with effects we’ve felt here again and again. Add to that the increased speed of business, which has so accelerated that today’s darling manufacturer is next year’s has-been. Or run over by 3D printer. If instead we were to concentrate economic development on proven lasting institutions, our community would be better insulated from the boom/bust cycle. And then I narrowed the practical institutional options to two, Education and Health.
Which is great news. You may be aware there is an acute shortage of physicians in the U.S. And now that health care is even more of an emphasis under Obamacare, the shortage will only grow more severe. What if we had taken the $28 million dollars spent so far (thanks Bruce Ross for the link) and established a City Medical College in downtown Redding that is designed to crank out general practice physicians as quickly and inexpensively as possible?
By happy coincidence, we have more than one hospital where students could work and intern. And we’ve no shortage of boomer codgers like myself for them to
practice on heal. It’s like we planned it. Education and Health. Two booms that won’t soon go bust.
“Can’t be done” I hear you saying. Of course it can’t if you keep saying that. So stop it. It’s complex and difficult. But think about this. There are literally hundreds of medical colleges in India. India! How many of those small towns have even half the economic and technical advantages we enjoy in Redding? Here’s a link to Medical Colleges in India in Wikipedia. Try to count them all. And you think we couldn’t have one here? They crank out doctors there. “India is one of only a few countries where graduates from local medical schools end up working in other countries all over the world, but particularly in the Middle East, the UK and the USA.” Wait, what? We can’t do that?
So what if we moved City Hall to Stillwater (soon to be near REU) and put a medical campus on Cypress? Would that have cost $28 million? or the projected $68 million buildout? I don’t know. Or put City Hall in that empty shampoo factory I showed you in the last post. Whatever. I think the main idea is well worth consideration. Some classes on campus, some at the hospitals. Some in partnership with Shasta, Simpson, and ITT. We leverage our strengths, harness the unmet needs of Education and Health, revitalize downtown, and create a municipal institution that will prosper and serve for generations.
Red Med is what I think everyone will call the Redding Municipal Medical School. Where even a blue collar kid can become a doctor ASAP without back breaking student loan debt. Fact: we already attract spiritual students from all over the world. Why not medical students?
We’ve spent years sitting on our hands, hoping something comes of the money we spent on Stillwater. And then we hope it won’t be a server farm, or a logistic center à la Walmart Distribution Center. Or we seize upon any pipe dream or imaginary movie studio. Let’s turn our attention and effort to something real, something needed:
The first graduating class of doctors from Red Med.
Well that’s my idea. What’s yours?