Here is an intriguing idea courtesy of Carole Strayhorn!
1) Build a medical school, 2) enhance the medical/bio-tech industry in Austin, 3) create jobs, 4) create revenue for the city.
“This Council Spent $2.3 Billion for Biomass Energy in Nacogdoches. For less than half that cost, we could build this medical school, create $1.5 billion a year in revenue, and create 14,400 permanent jobs.”
If built in close proximity to Brackenridge, which I assume it would be, this could bring much needed life to the northeastern quadrant of downtown Austin.
Refreshingly, this makes good sense.
If you build it, they will come. Austin, as a leading center of education and innovation, a medical school in the most desirable city in the country would be a huge success.
A UT medical school branch in Austin would require political support from the legislature and the Board of Regents.
There has been some movement toward enhancing the presence of UT medical-related programs and research institutes here over the past few years. With the hurricane-related issues plagueing UT Medical School in Galveston, this is probably the most logical time to commit to a new medical school in Austin. There are some logical sites for such a facility in and around Mueller or the East Avenue development. Although, a large med school complex would overwhelm the original concept at Mueller.
Given the size and growth rate of this state, a new med school would be warranted and not a zero-sum game. We will need more doctors and other medical professions in the coming years as our population grows and ages.
A medical school might help the local area, but it doesn’t help the state at all – it’s a zero sum game (services so often are). What our economy needs now, especially at the national level, is more of a focus on satisfying fundamental needs rather than things ten levels removed from fundamentals (i.e. ‘financial services’).
In other words, find something that needs to be built and make a company to build it.
Training doctors only gets you so far if your population base can no longer support as high an investment in medical care because you stopped making things that other countries wanted to buy…
Just to bring everyone’s expectations back to reality…
I’ve been living in Austin since 1978, when I moved here to start college. At that time there was a lot of talk about the UT System starting a medical school in Austin. Makes sense, right? UT Austin is the University of Texas’ flagship school. What better place for a medical school.
Then the talk died down. Then, about five years later, rumors started flying about the medical school. Then they died down. Then, about five years later, the rumors started flying again. Newspaper articles, etc. Then they died down. Then, about five years later …, etc, etc.
… Repeat until the present day.
I think that a medical school/research center is exactly what we need here in Austin, but there are so many political entities that need to start marching in the same direction for it to happen, that I doubt it ever will.
The most important thing would be that the UT System gets behind an Austin medical school, and I can guarantee that this would be fought tooth and nail by the other UT medical schools (Dallas, Galveston, San Antonio, & Houston).
So even though it’s a great idea, I wouldn’t get my hopes up too high. The political will isn’t there, and I doubt it ever will be.
Melissa Tucker says
I’m not sure that “courtesy of” is quite the right terminology, Jude. It’s not exactly an original idea. (I’m not convinced Ms. Strayhorn has many of those.)
J Ryan says
The medical school does seem to make sense. At least it is a job creator and the benefits seem to help people whether they are rich or poor–something we often talk about but rarely deliver. I hope this is a wake-up call to other city leaders to think about bigger solutions to our city’s growing challenges.