CLEVELAND, Ohio — Members of the health-care industry, public officials and business interests have launched a study to see whether space between the edge of Cleveland’s downtown and the hospital-heavy University Circle neighborhood could be a hub for medical business.
The study will look mostly at the “HealthLine” — a three-mile stretch of Euclid Avenue bookended by a neighborhood that includes Cleveland State University, St. Vincent Charity Hospital and Cuyahoga Community College on one end, and by Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University on the other. The study also will examine the areas around those end points and portions of E. 55th Street next to Euclid Avenue, as well as the role of the Port of Cleveland.
Angelou Economics, a Texas economic consulting firm, started the study in mid-May to determine whether that area could create a focused biomedical cluster in the tradition of North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park, or whether it should be broadened to include all innovation and technology companies.
The firm’s final recommendations and an implementation strategy should be done by September, said Jim Colson, the company’s chief operating officer.
An array of organizations — city and county governments, the Cleveland Port Authority, biotech advocate BioEnterprise and the non-profit Cleveland Foundation — are participating in and funding the study. BioEnterprise President Baiju Shah said the region already has created a vibrant collection of businesses and medical research that has yet to reach its potential.“We’ve struggled to create the energy because we have sprawl,” Shah said. “We have companies hidden away in different parts of our region that aren’t easily connected with one another or the [medical] institutions.”
Clustering can be geographic or by interests. Michigan, for example, ”clustered” its top medical universities — though they’re hours apart from one another — to better collaborate on and spin off commercially viable medical research. Akron launched a biomedical corridor project based on its concentration of polymer, engineering and orthopaedic research, among other things.
Euclid Avenue has its mix of opportunities and challenges. Cleveland Clinic gradually has expanded along Euclid Avenue anyway — it is in negotiations to purchase the Cleveland Playhouse, one of the large masses of well-kept properties on the street. However, many patches of the street are peppered with abandoned and toxic properties that could make a true “connection” between sides difficult.
Plus, some research say it’s less clear whether clusters can help increase jobs as much as they aid businesses that join the clusters. Sometimes, jobs created by businesses in a cluster are created somewhere else.
Shah said the health services around University Circle have outgrown that area. “How do we create a vision for what happens in 10 years that really creates a health corridor around the two major poles [University Circle and Cleveland State-area] and that takes advantage of the transformation of the HealthLine?” he asked.
[Photo courtesy of Flickr user T(h)ed Ferringer]