The IU School of Medicine facility at USI is growing, and could be expanding to downtown Evansville. Officials are working to build a health science education and research campus. Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana President and CEO Greg Wathen says there are three possible locations for the $35 million dollar project. They include: USI, the Deaconess Gateway complex in Warrick County, and downtown Evansville, which the consultant recommends.
"It's a really big deal. I'm not sure people understand the scope of this, in particular because you have the potential to have a lot more than just a handful, but hundreds of people being impacted by this decision," Greg Wathen said.
IU School of Medicine-Evansville is partnering with Deaconess Health System, Saint Mary's Medical Center, Jasper Memorial, and OMHS to execute the plan. Wathen believes this would bring more housing, a grocery store, and retail downtown.
"And you begin to see housing, you begin to see the kind of retail that would support it because now you have the ability to have a couple hundred people in one area. And typically highly educated, highly motivated, but because of what they're doing in terms of the work and the school, they want to have their amenities as close to them as possible without having to drive everywhere," Wathen said.
It's exciting news for downtown business like Eclipse Spanish Tapas Bar & Restaurant.
"I think it's great because I think the more things, and the more attractions, and the more institutions, and more business they bring downtown, it's just going to give more life to it," Sandra Soto-Davila said.
A strong medical community with an opportunity to become even stronger. Wathen says all the pieces are here to make this a reality.
Officials say we should know where this new medical center will go in October. We're told it won't be open until 2016.