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Osborn: Nashville Medical Trade Center advancing toward announcement
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David Osborn Nashville Medical Trade Center advisor

Announcement of the location and design of the proposed Nashville Medical Trade Center should come within about 30 days, according to David Osborn, senior advisor for the project.

Meanwhile, earlier this week in Cleveland, where a competing $425 million mart is proposed, developers triggered an outpouring of concern by some elected officials and urban-design advocates, when they abruptly changed the proposed location of some mart facilities to areas that may impinge on the city's historic downtown malls and architectural features.

In an interview with VNC, Nashville-based Osborn indicated that notwithstanding the uproar in Cleveland – and what he described as the relative "quiet" around a third trade-mart entry in New York City – he and NMTC allies remain focused on their own tasks.

Osborn said he and others within the alliance assembled here by Dallas-based Crow Holdings' Market Center Management Company (MCMC) are in preliminary discussions with both manufacturers who may opt to showcase their products in the NMTC, and with buying influentials within healthcare insitutions and group purchasing organizations, about 150,000 of whom are projected to travel here annually to visit the proposed 1.5 million square foot center.

Osborn said those prospects have not yet been offered leasing proposals, because the design of the new space remains underway. He said the location is virtually "secured" and is being "kind of finalized."

As previously reported by VNC, NMTC and its allies have for months been pounding the pavement in Nashville and elsewhere, conceding no advantage to competing medical trade center projects underway in New York City and proposed for Cleveland.

Osborn said recent "brainstorming" sessions with natural stakeholders in the trade mart have allowed testing of responses to proposed NMTC features, and have generated some ideas not previously considered.  Osborn provided no details.

However, some Nashvillians' ideas would set the bar pretty high:  For example, Harry Jacobson, M.D., former vice chancellor for health affairs at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told VNC he has recommended that the NMTC should have strong built-in attraction to the general public, as well as for healthcare industry executives.

This attraction might be achieved, Jacobson said, by having a "phenomenal set of exhibits," perhaps rivaling such institutions as the Museum of Science & Industry, in Chicago's Hyde Park; and, by having on-site studios for production of content for a healthcare television channel; and, by creating areas for simulated operation of technologies, interaction with scientists, and possiby even resources for supporting or communicating about clinical studies.

Osborn noted that management with the Dallas corporation to whom he reports have been eager to learn, given that Crow-MCMC's experience has been heavily weighted toward trade marts for consumer goods, rather than for healthcare and medical goods and services.  In the context of retail, said Osborn, mart visitors are buying for their own stores, whereas in the healthcare context buyers are typically teams of "multiple stakeholders," very sophisticated executives from a number of disciplines and working shoulder-to-shoulder with the end-user of the medical equipment and devices on display. The interests of clinicians, financial executives, technology staff and others all come into play, particularly on big-ticket items.

Special attention is being accorded purchasing groups with enormous checkbook clout, including Brentwood-based HealthTrust Purchasing Group, which includes dozens of healthcare providers, among them HCA. Other targeted groups include university-oriented Novation LLC (Irving, Texas); and, Charlotte-based Premier Inc.

Osborn declined to comment on the degree to which the NMTC's advancement is contingent on local approval of the proposed new Nashville Convention Center, noting that making any comments, one way or the other, while the matter is under discussion by elected officials and others could be problematic.

Regarding financing the medical mart, Osborn said that project financing should not be viewed as a "slamdunk" for anyone in the current economic environment.  However, he added, "We wouldn't be inevsting the time and the money in this now in this early planning and leasing process if we didn't think that at the end of this we'll be able to find financing for it."

Asked about the prospect of government incentives for the mart, Osborn provided no details, but said both Metro Nashville and State of Tennessee officials have made clear they see the economic advantages associated with the project, and "we are in discussions with the city and the state about how we can all collaborate to make this thing happen."

Economic projections done by NMTC advocates suggest that about 2,700 jobs would be generaed by the project, with about 150,000 visitors yearly each spending approximately 2.5 days in Nashville.

Osborn, 51, became a consultant to MCMC about 100 days ago. Previously, he had been director of Health Care Solutions Group, a Nashville think tank he founded to improve the health care system. The HCSG was a partnership between Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the Nashville Health Care Council.  Earlier, he served as founding executive director of the Center for Better Health at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Prior to that, he worked with KPMG Consulting/BearingPoint, Andersen Consulting, and Quorum Health Resources.

Osborn, who earned his Ph.D. in Management from the University of Tennessee, and a bachelor's from Harding University at Searcy, Ark. He previously served on the faculties of Vanderbilt University Medical School and Abilene Christian University. ♦ 

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Tags: Crow Holdings, education, Harry Jacobson, health IT, healthcare, HealthTrust Purchasing Group, Market Center Management Company, marketing, medicine, Museum of Science and Industry, Nashville Medical Trade Center, pharmaceuticals, technology, World Product Centre


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