Health Care: The mother of all life sciences

September 11, 2013 

Just like death and taxes, another thing we can count on for our lifetime is health care. Why is health care important to Lee’s Summit? Because it is an economic-driver industry, bringing in new dollars and assessed valuation to help balance the tax base. Indeed, health care is a target industry for Lee’s Summit. It is knowledge-based, has high-paying jobs and economic spin-offs. A 2004 Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council study of the economic impact of our hospitals showed a tremendous direct and indirect impact: over $2 million in annual taxes to the City and schools; over 3,000 jobs, and 500,000 sf of non-residential construction such as retail, offices, and hotels. It is not unreasonable to assume these impacts have doubled in the last 9 years (this study was done before the full impact of Saint Luke’s East Hospital was in place.)

Lee’s Summit has many health care providers. A quick count of listings in Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce’s 2013 Directory of Health shows over 700 individuals and offices. Then there are the behemoths: the hospitals. Serving our part of Eastern Jackson County are: HCA Midwest Lee’s Summit Medical Center, Saint Luke’s East, Truman Medical Center – Lakewood, and John Knox Village, with its assisted-living and skilled care centers. All are award-winning and add to our quality of life. Aside from these facilities, there is our “medical corridor” off of Ralph Powell Road, where doctors’ offices and clinics stretch both sides of the street.

For our residents and graduates, health care is a growth industry with a secure career path. The Mid America Regional Council’s Workforce Intelligence Network states that 10 percent of the region’s jobs are in healthcare. Projections for job openings for 2012-2017 will be almost 25,000 in the health care industry as compared to retail (13,000) and food related (11,000).

According to Eastern Jackson County by the Numbers, a publication of the county and a consortium of local EDCs, there are 6,050 residents in Lee’s Summit who work in health care and 5,250 jobs in health care- almost 15 percent of all the jobs in Lee’s Summit. Health care jobs per capital are 6.1 percent of population vs. 3.36 per capita to abutting municipal neighbors.

These current and future trends demonstrate that Lee’s Summit may be the health care node of Eastern Jackson County and beyond to the east. The changes in health care laws are forcing consolidations from rural areas to suburban areas like Lee’s Summit. Look forward to further collaborations with our health care providers and suppliers to profile how they are providing award-winning health care, good paying jobs, and making Lee’s Summit a community choice for new residents and businesses.

Jim Devine is President of the Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council. He can be reached at jdevine@leessummit.org

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