For more than a decade Greater Spokane Incorporated (GSI) has been committed to providing community leadership that helps create and execute a vision for the growth of medical education, associated health and bioscience research, the spinoff businesses from that research and improved quality healthcare access in our community. Targeting full buildout by 2030, this vision for a comprehensive, world-class, center of academic health sciences medical education, and all that goes with it, could lead to unprecedented economic impact to the Spokane region, by building on our community’s largest economic driver – healthcare.
This project is the single largest economic development opportunity for our region and has the potential to fuel unprecedented economic impact through robust bioscience industry growth. Built on a foundation of four-year undergraduate and graduate medical education expansion, the growth of bioscience research, commercialization and business development will drive an ultimate 20-year economic impact of $1.7 billion annually and lead to the creation of more than 9,000 jobs.
But, why Spokane? Our region is in the midst of a critical physician shortage; in particular, we’re experiencing a growing shortage of primary care physicians in rural and underserved areas in eastern Washington. Spokane has all the building blocks for creating a robust medical education and research center including our state’s two largest public universities committed to expanding in Spokane – WSU Spokane’s health sciences and research focused campus with plans to create an independently accredited four-year medical school and the planned expansion of the existing Spokane-based University of Washington School of Medicine’s WWAMI four-year medical school program that ranks #1 in primary care and rural education.
GSI supports the medical education expansion plans of both institutions. Building on the collaborative system of strong health sciences and allied health programs of our regional universities and community colleges with the nationally-recognized, regional community-based healthcare system, the foundation is set for continuing to engage business and community leadership in the advocacy and support for world-class medical education headquartered in Spokane.
As the lead economic development organization in the region, GSI has been working with community and higher education partners to shape this comprehensive vision. GSI is now providing community leadership and strategic oversight for the vision to assure that we achieve the far-reaching economic impact that is possible, by:
• Supporting and providing state legislative advocacy for WSU’s creation of an independently accredited four-year medical school
• Supporting and providing state legislative advocacy for UW School of Medicine’s expansion of the existing WWAMI four-year medical school program in Spokane
• Supporting and providing state and federal legislative advocacy for the expansion of Graduate Medical Education (residencies) in eastern Washington
• Providing economic development leadership for bioscience industry growth including biomedical and health-related research, commercialization and bioscience business growth
• Working to fill the health sciences workforce gap in our community through the support of allied health professions educational growth
• Developing the future pipeline of healthcare workforce-ready students through the advancement of STEM strategies (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math)
A comprehensive center for medical education, research and bioscience industry growth will provide sustained economic impact, improved healthcare access and quality of care, expanded educational opportunities for students in Spokane and the state, and development of a new bioscience commercial sector in our region from research spin-off opportunities and bioscience business growth.
Realizing this vision is vital to the growth of our region. GSI is dedicated to seeing it through as we continue working toward a stronger, healthier and more robust economy, community and state.
For more on this story, read the guest opinion from today’s Spokesman-Review, written by our CEO & President, Steve Stevens.