By Carol Cain
Senior Producer and Host
WWJ-TV CBS Detroit Michigan Matters

The state that put the world on wheels is gaining traction in the medical arena as more firms and providers tied to the burgeoning health care field are looking to do business here, county leaders discussed during taping of Michigan Matters.

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Six hospitals, medical device makers and other life science companies committed to invest more than $21 million and add 329 new local jobs in Oakland County’s Medical Main Street program,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said on Michigan Matters airing Saturdays at 11 a.m. on WWJ-TV CBS Detroit.

Patterson appeared on the program with Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, former Michigan Economic Development Corporation CEO Greg Main, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan CEO Daniel Loepp.

Patterson launched his Medical Mainstreet effort launched 18 months ago to bring area hospitals, suppliers, medical device makers and educators together to promote his county and the region as a medical destination similar to a Mayo or Cleveland Clinic.

“Healthcare is the fastest growing segment we have,” said Patterson. “We have 93,000 employees involved now.”

Ficano, who runs the state’s largest county, pointed at the Vanguard-Detroit Medical Center venture which will bring hundreds of new jobs and millions in much needed capital.

All of the DMC’s hospitals will remain open for at least the next ten years. $350-million invested in capital improvements and $500-million pent on construction projects over the next five years in the deal which was completed last month.

Ficano also talked up the growth of Henry Ford Health System in places like West Bloomfield as another sign of growing medical reach.

On the topic of jobs, Daniel Loepp highlighted the pending transfer of 3,000 BCBSM jobs from the suburbs into Detroit, a move that will help the city and save the state’s largest healthcare provider $30 million. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan covers 4.5 million people in the state.

Loepp expressed concern about national healthcare insurance reform which has been front page news in Washington as President Barack Obama’s plan been criticized by some.

With a new Congress, the healthcare program will likely be considered again with issues such as pre-determined medical conditions and insurance for offspring until age 26 debated.

Main talked of the growing life sciences field and its potential for creating jobs and businesses in the state.

He singled out the University Research Corridor — which includes Michigan State University, University of Michigan and Wayne State.

Main also talked about Medical Mile, a 30-year effort that has continued to grow exponentially with a new children’s hospital and medical school opening in downtown Grand Rapids in recent months.

Speaking of improving health, the roundtable talked of the importance of the North American International Auto Show which kicks off its media days at Cobo Center on Monday before the show opens to the public next Saturday.

“This is our trademark,” said Ficano of the annual auto event.

Both county leaders talked up the economic development opportunities that come during the show as many CEOs trek here to not only visit the show but look at the region as well.

Carol Cain hosts Emmy winning “Michigan Matters” airing 11 a.m. Saturdays on WWJ-TV CBS Detroit . You can also read her columns on politics and business in the Sunday’s Detroit Free Press. She can be reached at 248-355-7126 or via e-mail.


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