Cleveland Looks to Rebrand as Medical Hub

CLEVELAND — In an attempt to recover from the loss of manufacturing jobs over the last several decades, Cleveland is aiming to rebrand itself as a healthcare hub with the construction of its Medical Mart & Convention Center, set to break ground. The $465 million center will target healthcare equipment and supplies manufacturers.
Cuyahoga County is partnering with a unit of Vornado Realty Trust to redevelop the public space underneath the Cleveland Mall, overlooking Lake Eerie. The public will be obliged to pay the entire $465 million construction budget and subsidize Vornado’s operating expenses. The planned 422,000-square-foot exhibition center will be funded mainly with a quarter-cent sales tax increase.
Taxpayers may pay as much as $840 million for the project, including debt costs over twenty years. Vornado is contributing $28.5 million. It also is responsible for cost, repair, and operating overruns.
Besides offering space to showcase and market medical equipment, project backers hope visitors will want to visit the nearby Cleveland Clinic, one of the country’s top medical centers. The goal is that the Medical Mart and the clinic will work in tandem to bring high-paying industry jobs to the region.
Since 2000, the county has lost 41 percent of its manufacturing jobs while healthcare and social assistance jobs have increased by 19 percent.
The Medical Mart has yet to sign any permanent tenants but officials say they have received 40 letters of intent from potential lessees of exhibit space.
The trade show arm of Crow Holdings plans to break ground in 2011 on its own healthcare showcase in Nashville at the Nashville Medical Trade Center. That project will have about ten times the 100,000 square feet of permanent showroom space for medical products planned for Cleveland. Nashville’s center already has an announced tenant – Healthcare Information and Management Systems – a nonprofit that promotes information technology for medical providers.
The Medical Mart is the brainchild of Delos M. “Toby” Cosgrove, the Cleveland Clinic’s chief executive officer.