ULI: 2016 should be strong for Jacksonville
By Kevin Hogencamp, Contributing Writer
It may sound like a stretch, but it isn’t: Baptist Health’s new lifesaving treatments for patients having a stroke are directly impacting the Jacksonville real estate market.
That’s because 10 of the 11 physicians who comprise Baptist’s stroke and cerebrovascular team relocated to the Jacksonville area from other communities, says Nicole Thomas, senior vice president of specialty services for Baptist Health.
The neurologists’ use of teleneurology innovation is enabling emergency room physicians to have round-the-clock access to the specially trained physicians in real-time, two-way audio and video communication to provide immediate access and lifesaving care to stroke patients.
The technology means patients from Bainbridge, Ga., to St. Augustine don’t have to leave the area to receive treatment.
“We are using neurologists at Baptist to improve patient care, but we’re also using it to attract top talent to Jacksonville,” Thomas said, noting the team physicians’ average age is 37.
“So you start to make the connection as to how that impacts real estate, how that impacts the economy,” she said.
Thomas was among four panelists providing insight on the correlation between real estate, innovation and the local job market this month at the Urban Land Institute’s annual Emerging Trends in Real Estate forum.
The Washington, D.C.-based institute says growing, innovative hospitals are natural economic boosters for communities as space near hospital centers command a premium, meaning landlords shouldn’t have difficulty leasing space near medical campuses.
The keynote speaker for the forum at WJCT Studios was Kathleen Carey, chief content officer for the Urban Land Institute, which along with PwC tax and advisory service publishes the annual Emerging Trends in Real Estate report.
Additional panelists were Gary Chartrand, a state Board of Education member and executive chairman of Acosta Sales and Marketing in Jacksonville; Kirk Wendland, the city of Jacksonville’s Office of Economic Development’s executive director; and Lee Nelson, the University of Florida’s real estate director.
The Urban Land Institute provides leadership in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Its 37,000-plus members represent the land use and development fields in private enterprise and public service.
The 2016 Emerging Trends report gives Jacksonville a green dot on its map for real estate prospects, a notch above the city’s yellow “fair” dots in 2014 and 2015.
“According to ‘Emerging Trends,’ you ought to have a very positive and very strong next 12 months,” Carey told the audience.
The idea for this month’s event was to discuss ways Jacksonville can become a cutting-edge city that competes with top metropolitan communities in the Southeast and beyond.
Along that line Chartrand discussed the opportunities the community is embracing through the 8-month-old STEM2 Hub workforce and educational program in the fields of science, technology, engineering, math and medicine.
The not-for-profit co-founded by Chartrand aims to benefit the Northeast Florida economy by encouraging schools and employers to establish programs and partnerships to develop talent in those fields.
“It is business-led so we could clearly articulate to the education community where the gaps are, where the demand is and how the educational community can actually react,” said Chartrand.
STEM2 Hub’s creation was partly inspired by Chartrand learning that employers have difficulty filling STEM-related jobs and that half of those positions are available to people without four-year college degrees.
A prime STEM opportunity in Jacksonville as at Vistakon, which Chartrand says pays an annual salary of up to $60,000 to people with advanced manufacturing associate’s degrees from Florida State College at Jacksonville.
“We need to be able to make sure have the skill set in the community to able to prosper,” he said.
In addition to promoting early college opportunities, STEM2 Hub has partnered with Code.org to add computer coding to elementary school curriculums beginning in fall 2016 in Duval, Baker, Clay, Flagler, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns counties.
The United Kingdom recently began requiring public schools to teach coding and Chartrand said the Florida Legislature is considering a similar measure.
“Most of the people I’ve bumped into who are coders taught themselves how to code,” he said. “It will only be a half-an-hour of coding, but it will expose our children to it.”
Further discussing trends in cutting-edge cities, Nelson said universities have an increasingly important role in building local economies. He cited as examples the impacts the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has had on the Cambridge economy and the University of Michigan has had on the Ann Arbor economy.
Those universities have teamed with local government and the private sector to create research parks, technology centers and innovation districts.
“A lot of the research-centric area districts get their starts with universities, but the best ones take off because there’s a lot of private-sector investment,” Nelson said. “Communities realize that having this kind of intellectual firepower is a good advantage of them.”