by Joan Tupponce
King College’s president, Dr. Gregory D. Jordan, expects its proposed medical and health sciences school to begin offering classes in three years.
The Bristol, Tenn., college recently signed a deal to build the King School of Medicine & Health Sciences Center in the Stone Mill Business and Technology Park in Abingdon.
The building is scheduled to open in 2014, but classes may begin at the nearby Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center while construction is being completed. In addition to training doctors, the school also will provide nursing and nurse practitioner programs.
“2012 will be spent in planning the facility and the site development plans,” Jordan says. “We’ve developed a [partnership] with Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, which is adjacent to Stone Mill. It has all the educational and technical resources that will enable us to launch the medical school prior to completion of the new facilities.”
In 2009, King College was awarded a $25 million matching grant by the Virginia Tobacco Commission, with the proviso that the medical school would be located in Virginia. In September, the college received commitments from the Abingdon Town Council and the Washington County Board of Supervisors that led to the selection of Stone Mill Park as the school site. Abingdon agreed to provide $3.5 million and up to seven parcels of land totaling 36 acres at Stone Mill Park. Washington County committed $7.5 million to the project.
Construction of the school is expected to result in $27 million in economic activity for Abingdon, with its ripple effects creating about 200 jobs for the town. The first class of 75 medical students is projected to generate nearly $10 million in local revenue.
“It’s a win-win situation for the people of Abingdon, Washington County and the surrounding region — in terms of job creation, business development and health-care options,” says Washington County Board Chair Dulcie Mumpower.
Grocery store chain Food City had offered the college the former Johnston Memorial Hospital building in Abingdon for a medical school. After a needs assessment, however, the college decided it would be more effective to “develop a new facility with an architectural firm that reflects the programmatic needs of the medical school,” says Jordan. “While we were deeply appreciative of Food City, we declined the offer.”
The college has an option to purchase 15 additional acres of land adjacent to Stone Mill Park. “It gives us the opportunity to develop new structures there in the future as the school and the health sciences center grow,” Jordan says.
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