Last updated on 2013.06.20
I generally don't trade in gossip, but whispers from numerous quarters about a possible Madison economic development tilt-a-whirl have me ready to ask if there's any fire behind the smoke.
The story begins with one bit of information that I can confirm: local real estate agent Bob Fodness has put up for sale his Real Estate Retrievers office on 325 Southeast 4th Street in Madison. Real Estate Retrievers must be moving to new digs, right?
Follow me across town. I hear that Fodness is moving his operation to the old Doug's Auto building on the south side of town. The Mitchell dealer tried unsuccessfully to break into the oddly underserved Lake County auto sales market a few years back. That property has been mostly idle for some time. It is rather isolated, with the nearest landmarks being the cemetery, the Resykle junkyard, and Bethel's expanding old folks' facility.
If the property has not drawn the eager attention of any other entrepreneur over the past few years, what might have made Fodness strike a deal with a Madison magnate to acquire this property himself?
Perhaps Fodness sees an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a big new business district development. The rumor mill takes us now to the north side of town, where the Madison Community Hospital may getting ready for a big move. Here's the purported, unsubstantiated, but intriguing plan that has folks around town whispering:
- Madison Community Hospital sells its facility to Dakota State University.
- The hospital builds a new facility on the south edge of town, across the road from Doug's Auto, on the bypass.
- The hospital gets capital for the project by joining either the Sanford or Avera hospital network. (I've heard both buyers mentioned.)
Readers, I welcome your confirmation of, rejection of, elaboration upon, or just plain musing about the preceding claims.
Who would gain from a plan like this? One would think the plan would provide some economic boost to Madison, driven by infusions of cash from DSU, in the form either of state money from the Board of Regents or DSU Foundation donors, and from a big out-of-town hospital network. DSU and the hospital might use new space to add more staff, creating a few more jobs around town.
Logistically, placing the hospital on the south edge of town might provide better logistics: no more helicopter flights over town, faster departure and arrival for ambulances. DSU also gains office and parking space, removing pressure to encroach south on the lovely campus green.
On the health care side, Bethel residents would benefit from better access to the hospital. One would think that Sanford or Avera would be able to use their economies of scale to bring more resources and raise quality here... but at what price? Would rates in Madison go up? Would Avera and Sanford better serve their line by getting their hands on Madison's hospital just to drive more patients down to their central facilities in Sioux Falls, meaning less actual care provision close to home?
These questions, of course, may be jumping the gun. All we have on paper is one little real estate office for sale. But keep your eyes on both sides of town!