Business Outlook 2014

By Dennis Read
Photos by Ryan M.L. Young
Illustration by Yogesh Chaudhary

Growth was a common talking point when Columbus CEO discussed the coming year with local experts in a variety of fields. Central Ohio hospital systems are adding facilities and services. Developers are planning numerous new sites for retail shopping. The Downtown housing market is continuing to expand. Employment numbers are expected to make slow but steady growth. Area colleges are increasing opportunities for students to pursue degrees.

For our annual business feature, we interviewed a variety of Central Ohio professionals to get their thoughts on what 2014 holds for five key topics: employment, real estate, healthcare, retail shopping and education.

Outlook: Health Care

The number one item in healthcare for 2014 is the Affordable Care Act.

Jose Rodriguez, director of communication for the Columbus Public Health Department, says it “will change the healthcare landscape in our region, state and nation. For the first time in history, thousands of individuals, families and small businesses will now be able to have health insurance that fits their budgets and meets their needs.”

Rodriguez adds that the expansion of Medicaid will provide health benefits to 275,000 low-income residents.

A major effort to promote good health and preventable medicine is the New Albany Center for Healthy Living, popularly known as the Core, now under construction and due to open in November. The brainchild of local resident Phil Heit, the facility, costing $13 million and containing 55,000 square feet, will be staffed by medical providers from the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and Nationwide Children’s Hospital, as well as personal trainers and dieticians.

“This won’t be a fitness center,” Heit says. He explains that members will be given a full medical workup and genetic testing to determine any health risks and to establish a basis for an exercise and dietary regimen. Members will be issued a thumb drive that fits into the exercise equipment and that will program the workout tailored to them.

“We’re really personalizing everything,” Heit says.

Although local residents and employees, numbering nearly 20,000, will dominate the membership in the Core, Heit stresses that anyone can join. Different membership options will be available. Fees have yet to be set.

Heit says that while aspects of the Core can be found elsewhere, “this is something that’s never been done before on this scale. We intend to measure our results and establish benchmarks to determine a healthy community. We want to establish a national model by which other communities can build their own health campus.”

In Westerville, St. Ann’s Hospital, a member of the Mount Carmel Health System, is opening its new patient tower this month. The tower completes the hospital’s transformation into a regional medical center, offering a full range of cardiovascular services. Janet Meeks, president and COO of Mount Carmel St. Ann’s, says the $120 million investment in expansion “is meeting an unmet need and saving lives” for those living in northern Franklin and southern Delaware counties.

In Grove City, Mount Carmel West Hospital is opening this month a facility containing an emergency room, medical offices and ambulatory services for the second fastest growing community in Central Ohio. Sean McKibben, COO and president, says that the challenge of all providers of medical services is to make health care accessible and affordable. The Grove City facility is intended to serve those ends.

Another effort to achieve those goals is an affiliation between Mount Carmel and the OSU Wexner Medical Center promoting collaboration in clinical care, research and medical education. Collaborative activities between the systems, begun in mid-2013, include an integrated OB/GYN residency training program, clinical rotations at Mount Carmel for OSU medical students and shared physician coverage for maternal-fetal medicine.