Locally, the impact of having a medical school built in Roanoke (combined with the existing Jefferson College of Health Sciences) gives us the edge in the region. And depending on how it can link up with the other schools of medicine, could give us an even greater edge in not only the region, but the entire eastern seaboard.
And properly played, turning the regional network of hospitals and schools into one interlinked system, one massive educational and public service facility, well - it would be a huge win for us here in little ol' Roanoke.
Time to look at some of the local effects of having a med school here will be.
- Increased medical community. Thats a gimmie - as obvious as anything.
- Increased need for support staff for said medical community. DO, CNAs, RNs, and all the rest that Jefferson College churns out.
- More variety in "afterschool activities" - in other words, med students always need to blow off some steam when they can. We have to provide the place to do it.
- A renewed sense of professionalism, when your clients (in any business) are doctors - you have to step up the show a bit. Thats a lot of expendable income floating out there.
- A faster pace in business. Doctors typically do not have much time for lunch, be it at 12pm or 4am. We are going to need more 24-hour establishments, and faster (yet still quality) service.
But wait.. thats not all!
In today's Roanoke Times Op/Ed pages, theres a column from our former mayor David Bowers.
It tackles the city's "weak-kneed" leadership, and the seeming inability they have to notice the fact that NS and several counties here in Virginia are begging them to take on the Intermodal Rail facility. Montgomery County does not want, Elliston does not want. We have perfect location, perfect situation, and yet it appears - we do not want.
This makes me worry. I'll admit, I have not been as attentive as I could have been to this situation, but I figure freight rail will take care of itself, my focus has always been on the passenger side of the tracks.
But considering how absolute the other areas mentioned by NS as possible sites are in their "Do not want!", I say we should gain because they lose. Aside from the simple fact of tax base and revenue and jobs, it's a nice re-investment (as symbolic as it may be) for NS to make with the city, and vice versa.
When NS pulled it's HQ out of Roanoke, the city was heartbroken as would be expected. This is still primarily a rail town, hardly can one travel anywhere in the area and not hear the deep thrum of the engines, or the steam siren at the NS shops. This would be a small return to our roots, and with the level of blue-collar hard workin' folk round here - a few extra rail jobs would be a big blessing for both employee and employer.
In all reality, it's not about how many trucks it removes from I-81 for most people, nor is it about how much "greener" it is to run 100 truck-loads on one massive train engine, than 100 diesel-run truck engines. It's about the simple fact that rail belongs in Roanoke, there are plenty of people here who can do the work, and will do so gladly, and the city should recognize that fact.
So here we have it, 2 Major developments in Roanoke which could/will/are changing the course of the cities history.
And 2 very different ways of doing business. 1 is a private venture, destined to succeed. The other, reliant upon the city to stand up, and waiting for that very thing to happen.
City Council, Mayor McCheese, and Our Human Resources City Manager: You can see how a public-private venture works. The Carilion/VT school is going to do more for this city than most of your own ventures. Many of you on the City Council stand to benefit from it, including our own Vice-Mayor who I'm sure will see a nice spike upwards in business at his restaurant. The trickle-down effect does work, and if you stand up and work with NS to gain the Intermodal Station, the entire Roanoke area gains. And if you can't see that... well then, you better hope the Carilion school also has a class in opthalmology.