Atrium Health innovation district to create 11K jobs, seeks $100M in public funds

Charlotte, N.C.-based Atrium Health is seeking $100 million in funding to build an innovation district that will surround its future medical school, Wake Forest School of Medicine, according to a Sept. 29 Charlotte Observer report.

The medical school, which is planned through a partnership between Atrium Health and Winston Salem, N.C.-based Wake Forest Baptist Health, is scheduled to open in 2024. Atrium Health plans to build an innovation district to surround the school. 

The medical school and innovation district are anticipated to create 11,500 jobs over the next 15 years, with most in scientific research and development, higher education, consulting, IT and warehousing. Between 30 and 40 percent of jobs would likely be available to people without a bachelor's degree, according to the report.

Atrium said it plans to invest $1.1 billion in creating the innovation district. It is seeking $75 million from the city and county, as well as $25 million from federal grants, according to the report. The county's contribution could total $50 million as a tax increment grant over 20 years, according to the report. Most of the $75 million would go toward infrastructure, including new streets, street improvements, utility relocation and parking.

The project involves building on more than 1.5 million square feet of space.

"The construction of a second campus of Wake Forest School of Medicine is among the biggest things to happen in Charlotte in years," a spokesperson from Atrium told Becker's in a statement. "It has continued to build excitement within the community and promises to reshape the landscape of medical education through innovation, technology and diversity, among others. [The innovation district] will shift the local industry landscape as we incubate, develop and scale life science businesses into the companies of Charlotte's future."

The statement continued: "The innovation district will be an economic boom for years to come as research and development firms relocate or are created here. The proposed tax increment grant would be a major component of our ability to ensure the necessary infrastructure improvements are in place to support the development, such as water, sewer and traffic flow. And, as a result, we will be able to create and facilitate an improved tax base through site development, new jobs and building affordable housing to help support the growth that the school of medicine and innovation district will bring with it."

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