Indiana University has one foot in the door. Tomorrow it will sign a letter of intent to build an IU Medical Center somewhere in the region. The big question remains, where will the school be built? The university will sign on the dotted line at ten o'clock at the Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana office in Evansville. IU officials say they do not have any area in mind yet, but four locations in the Tristate are good possibilities.
A proposal becomes realty. Indiana University will take it's first step, signing a letter of intent, promising to bring an IU Medical Center somewhere in the region. As the proposal for the center surfaced, so did the question of where it would go. "There's nothing wrong with some healthy competition," says Greg Wathen.
IU has made it clear they have not set their eyes on any sites yet, but that hasn't stopped Evansville's east side, west side, downtown, and Warrick County, from throwing their hat in the ring. Greg Wathen, with the Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana, says each location is a qualified contender. Each has it's pro's and cons, but he says it's still too early to say which location is the best. "Could you pinpoint and say, this area would have the greatest economic impact, it really depends. It depends on the scope of the campus," says Wathen.
USI brings a college atmosphere, downtown brings the center near Deaconess Hospital, the east side is an already developed region with available land, and in Warrick County, the center would be near Deaconess Gateway and major highways.
All locations have their advantages and challenges. They all want the center, but in the end, it's Indiana University who will have the final say. "I think that's probably not a position they want to be in, and that's unfair for us, in general, to ask them to make that decision based upon, well this will help that area verses this area. That's not really their role," adds Wathen.
Wathen says this project is unique. He says rarely will you see a project impact it's surrounding area, but in the case of the IU Medical Center, it will drive economic impact where ever it goes. "It is a game changer regardless of it's location. That is pretty special. There are only a handful of these kinds of centers across the United States and we are going to have one," says Wathen.
The IU Board of Trustees will vote early next year on the project. They hope to have a final location determined by February. The Indiana General Assembly must approve funding before they can break ground.