MSU’s growth to net Kent County $339M annually

Partners publish study on the future economic impact of the four buildings that comprise MSU’s Medical Mile presence.
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BAMF Health is one of the businesses that already has set up shop in MSU’s downtown Grand Rapids campus. BAMF works with imaging and targeted radiation therapy at the molecular level. Courtesy Michigan State University

Michigan State University College of Human Medicine officials recently published a study outlining the future economic impact of the four buildings that comprise MSU’s Grand Rapids presence on the Medical Mile.

The buildings include the Secchia Center, the MSU Grand Rapids Research Center, and two buildings under construction: the Doug Meijer Medical Innovation Building and Perrigo Company’s North American corporate headquarters, which in the report was dubbed “Building 4.”

In May 2019, MSU announced the university’s first public-private partnership with Health Innovation Partners, a real estate development joint venture between Rockford Construction in Grand Rapids, Walsh Construction/Walsh Investors in Chicago, Murphy Development Group in Chicago and MSU. A 75-year ground lease was signed for the development of the Doug Meijer Medical Innovation building and 600-car parking structure at MSU Grand Rapids Innovation Park in downtown Grand Rapids. The fourth building’s tenant, Perrigo Company, was announced in October 2020.

After construction on the Perrigo North American headquarters building — which began April 14 — is completed in 2022, the annual direct economic activity related to the four buildings anchored by the MSU Secchia Center is estimated to be $203 million, with an annual economic impact of $339 million, annual support of 2,017 jobs and an increase in yearly earnings of $142 million. This does not include the impact of construction, which is outlined in a research summary below.

The study, authored by Christian Glupker and Paul Isely from the Seidman College of Business at Grand Valley State University, was discussed at the Economic Club of Grand Rapids’ April 12 virtual presentation, “A Bold Vision for the Future in Health Transformation.” Guest speakers included Dr. Norman Beauchamp Jr., executive vice president for health sciences at MSU, and Dr. Anthony Chang, founder and CEO of BAMF Health, a Grand Rapids-based AI medicine startup that will move into the Doug Meijer Medical Innovation Building when it is finished.

Beauchamp said the collaboration and partnerships that led to Medical Mile can be traced back nearly two decades to conversations between Grand Action and the MSU board of trustees.

“If you go back to 2005, a very bold vision came forth between West Michigan and Michigan State University. It was to create a medical school campus that had its headquarters here in Grand Rapids. It was in so doing to establish Michigan State as an integral part of the community with a physical presence and an identity. It was to connect together to create a research cluster focused on improving health, and it was also to really help us establish the medical school as one of the keystones for establishing Grand Rapids and West Michigan as a center for life sciences commercialization. And the results over the last decade have been remarkable.”

The report described the catalytic effect the MSU Grand Rapids Research Center has on the scientific ecosystem in the West Michigan region. It complements research efforts of Van Andel Institute and Spectrum Health and is a magnet for recruiting top researchers who are attracted to innovation, collaboration and new funding opportunities. Research spinoffs also are anticipated to generate new businesses by taking advantage of the scientific innovation.

“We were invited to West Michigan to be a partner in an amazing community. We see an important way to contribute is by creating a platform for all parts of the health ecosystem to come together to find new ways to solve the health challenges that face our communities, our nation and the world,” Beauchamp said. “The innovation center is already attracting entrepreneurs who look to capitalize on existing opportunities, create new companies and innovate at scale.”

Aron Sousa, interim dean at the MSU College of Human Medicine, added: “When we expanded our medical school and opened the Secchia Center in 2010, we set our sights on creating a medical education and research hub along the Medical Mile. As I reflect on this work, I am grateful to all those who have contributed to make this possible, including our philanthropic community, Health Innovation Partners and our Medical Mile partners Spectrum Health, Van Andel Institute, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s and Grand Valley State University. I am optimistic that the next phase will include discovery of new therapeutics and technologies to improve human health as we continue to train the next generations of physicians, many of whom practice in the region following their residency.”

BAMF Health is one example of a company based in Grand Rapids that is harnessing innovation to save lives. BAMF — which stands for Bold Advanced Medical Future — is dedicated to building a nationwide infrastructure to make a novel molecular imaging and molecular targeted radiation therapy available and affordable to all patients, Chang said. The startup has a technology that allows it to see tumors that no other current tools can catch, and it has already used that technology to treat late-stage prostate cancer patients and put them in complete remission. BAMF harnesses AI to streamline diagnosis and treatment from several weeks or months to a same-day process.

Its new location on Medical Mile, which is projected to open on Feb. 22, 2022, will be the most advanced radiopharmacy, molecular imaging clinic and theranostic (therapeutic diagnostics) clinic in the world, Chang said. He expects to create between 150 and 200 advanced-degree positions in the next two years and open several other radiopharmacy/theranostics clinics across the U.S. and the world to transform oncology, neurology and cardiac treatment for patients with terminal illnesses. The Grand Rapids center will be the flagship location.

Chang said the reason he came to Grand Rapids 10 years ago and started his business here is because of the vision behind Medical Mile.

“My heart of being a scientist is trying to develop technology which might impact health care for patients and make it accessible to patients,” he said. “It’s not just publishing papers and getting promoted to become a professor. This infrastructure over here allowed us to do research and also have a great chance to translate it into a clinical (application) way faster than any other place in the nation, and that had me very, very excited. In the past 10 years, with the continued growth of our medical community, we bring a lot of international/global talent to our community with the building of a world-class facility in Grand Rapids. We have every single component that we need over here, and there’s no reason we cannot be top of the world in specific fields.”

MSU contracted with the Grand Valley State University Seidman College of Business to perform an analysis of the four Medical Mile buildings’ impact on Kent County’s economy. Below is a summary of the research.

Medical Mile presence

Four buildings comprise MSU’s Grand Rapids presence on the Medical Mile (construction 2008-2022):

  • MSU College of Human Medicine Secchia Center
  • MSU Grand Rapids Research Center
  • Doug Meijer Medical Innovation Building
  • Perrigo Company PLC North American Corporate Headquarters

Construction activity

The construction of all four buildings totals $295.1 million and will generate $352 million in economic activity, with 1,991 construction jobs created.

Annual economic impact

Based on the data provided and the estimates made, direct economic activity is estimated to increase gross sales (output) in Kent County by $339 million and increase local earnings by $142 million. The operational spending will support 2,017 local jobs.

Catalytic effect

Another effect of the Grand Rapids Research Center is that it becomes an asset to the research ecosystem in the West Michigan region.

  • Complements research efforts of Van AndeI Institute and Spectrum Health
  • Positive impact on recruiting physicians and researchers to the community

Conclusion

As a result of the research complex that began with the Secchia Center, there has been a significant economic effect on the surrounding community. Building on the nearly $300 million spent on new construction, the research will soon directly support more than 1,100 jobs, which will then support another 900 jobs across the community. The scientific innovation underway also is elevating the stature of research being done across the Medical Mile, leading to better chances at getting grants and recruiting top researchers not only for MSU, but also for the other research centers in Grand Rapids, according to MSU.

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