Meridian Star

July 23, 2013

Bland works to develop 'Healthcare Industry Zone’

Special to The Star
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —    Meridian Mayor Percy Bland is working to develop a Healthcare Industry Zone master plan to begin actively recruiting targeted development in the city. according a city press release issued Monday.

    “Meridian has the potential to be a model city for Governor Phil Bryant's Mississippi Healthcare Industry Zone Act,” Bland states in the press release. “But to take advantage of the legislation — and potential incentives from the state — the city needs a comprehensive plan.”

    Bland recently met with a member of Bryant's staff, along with other communities and project managers working on the initiative, to start developing a master plan to take advantage of the initiative.

    "When the governor announced this legislation, it was clear that Meridian was the type of city he was targeting" Bland states in the press release. "It's important that we take the lead on this issue; we can't simply sit back and wait and hope that it will happen. We want to look for local expansion opportunities and identify the types of industries we need to be recruiting. There is no doubt we are the medical hub of this region."

    The Healthcare Industry Zone Act seeks to incentivize medical supply companies, biologic companies, laboratory testing companies, medical product distribution companies, diagnostic imaging companies, biotechnology companies, medical service providers, nursing and assisted living facilities, and medical equipment or medicine production and related manufacturing or processing companies.

    The stated goal of the legislation was to attract to Mississippi’s Health Care Zones industries that will embrace innovation and commercialization within the immediate locale of counties that have more than 375 acute care hospital beds or more and be within 5 miles of a hospital.

    Bland sees his background in healthcare administration as an added advantage to the Meridian community in bringing healthcare related jobs to this area, the press release states.

    “Meridian is a perfect location for all of this," Bland said. "I'm confident we can put a plan in place that will help bring healthcare- specific jobs to Meridian. We have a great healthcare system in place. Now we want to take advantage of what we have and expand it."

    Bland plans to attend the Governor's Health Care Economic Development Summit Aug. 15 in Jackson.