I had the privilege of attending a Baylor Scott & White Hospital reception at the Horseshoe Bay Yacht Club last night. In attendance were physicians, administrators, major donors, and other supporters of healthcare in the Hill Country. Representatives from Scott & White’s philanthropic and management team provided an update on the project, and several patients and caregivers offered testimonials about the level of care that is developing in the region.
Hospital construction photo taken on 4/22/2014
“Quality of life” and “economic impact” were some of the buzzwords that dominated the discussions, and rightfully so. To date, the focus has been on macro-level numbers: nearly a billion dollars in total economic impact over the first ten years of the project; over 1,000 direct and indirect jobs; $177 million annually in economic impact at full operation. In terms of quality of life, the many merits of a regional hospital are clear. A high level of care close to home is a winning formula.
What I would like to do is extend the conversation a bit and offer some background on why this is such a game-changer for our community.
According to the 2008-2012 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, the median earnings for workers in the city of Marble Falls was $24,567 annually. By contrast, those currently employed at the clinic have a median salary of $42,370 and an average salary of $94,030. Upon full build-out of the hospital, those figures are projected to increase to $48,989 and $141,867, respectively. The level of talent and disposable income introduced into our community over a relatively short period of time will be unprecedented, and will yield numerous opportunities for professional service providers and small business owners to make an impact as well.
Moreover, we talk often about the gains in quality of life for area residents that will come from the opening of the hospital, but we should expand that conversation to include the friends and family of area residents. If the citizens of the Highland Lakes area have not already thought about this, they should be thinking about potential opportunities for their children and grandchildren to enjoy our area while still in the workforce—and not just as a retirement destination when they get to that point. I can envision no better place to create multi-generational connections with family than in the Highland Lakes.