GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Grand Valley State University hopes the planned 11-acre expansion of its health sciences program will help make it a Midwestern destination for students wanting to go into the medical field.
The GVSU Board of Trustees approved the purchase Friday of about four blocks of property north of I-196 and the Medical Mile. It's expected to cost no more than $18.9 million, including closing and other costs.
"I think our college wants to be the premier provider of health care workers in the region," GVSU College of Health Professions Dean Roy Olsson said.
He said the national spotlight isn't the primary goal at this point, but rather that the school be the best at what it does in Michigan.
Olsson said the property purchase is the next step to make that happen. The expansion will mean more classrooms, more students and more specialties that the school can currently offer.
"Right now, our goal would be that we would be the preferred place for Michigan students to go to," Olsson said. "Maybe looking down the line, maybe from the region, there would be programs that we would have within the neighboring states where we would be the preferred program."
And it's not just good for the university. Representatives from The Right Place -- West Michigan's business and economic agency -- said it's good for the city economically, and could help make it more of a medical destination.
Rick Chapla from The Right Place said he thinks Grand Rapids will be better than Rochester, Minn. or Cleveland for health care.
"We're going to be better than Mayo. We're going to be better than the Cleveland clinic," he said. "That's a pretty bold announcement, but given what we've accomplished in the past 12 years which has taken those organizations 50 years to accomplish, we should be very proud of this next step in our achievement. … This is another very strong investment of confidence. And it's one that's being taken because Grand Rapids is going to be even that much bigger of an attraction for medical services."
GVSU announced the intended purchase in a press conference Thursday afternoon, saying the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences was "full to overflowing" and that it needed more space to grow the program.
"I think us growing along with Michigan State and Ferris State's pharmacology program, when you start to put it all together and hospitals that are around here, it certainly will give us a certainly a national flair of what's available in Grand Rapids," said Olsson.
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