CLEVELAND -- Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald made a long-awaited announcement Wednesday afternoon, naming the first two "big-name" tenants for the Medical Mart, the project designed to bring visitors and dollars to Greater Cleveland.
GE Healthcare, a global company with local operations and the Cleveland Clinic will be cornerstone players in the project . The big names add credibilty to the showcase for medical products and technolgy set to open next year with the new Cleveland Convention Center..
FitzGerald said," I think this is the biggest day in terms of success for the Medical Mart itself...You're talking about the local brand, the Cleveland Clinic and a national brand when it comes to healthcare, GE Healthcare...it's a huge step."
MMPI Vice President Jim Bennett predicted the announcement will trigger interest from other key medical players.
"It takes the momentum we already have and ramps it up on a steeper angle. I can predict after this announcement we will have 15 or 20 organizations calling us saying they'd like to be considered to be part of this," he said.
The $465 million taxpayer-backed complex appears to be coming in on budget and ahead of schedule. It's set to open next July.
GE Healthcare has more than 46,000 workers worldwide. It's headquartered in the United Kingdom.
Its products and services include medical imaging and diagnostics, information technology, patient monitoring systems and biopharmaceutical manufacturing technologies.
GE Healthcare CEO Tom Gentile said the corporation envisions creating a permanent laboratory here bringing together all its products for treating disease like breast cancer, Alzheimer's and heart conditions.
"There's a lot of opportunity to show how these treatments interact and impact patients," he said.
The announcement came against the backdrop of the 2012 Cleveland Clinic Innovation Summit at the Hotel Intercontinental.
Dr. C. Martin Harris , the Clinic's Chief Information Officer said the Clinic envisioned hosting doctors to discuss and witness new treatments at the Clinic and other hospitals.
"We plan to take advantage of both sides, the Medical Mart and the Convention Center," he said.
The project seeks to capitalize on Cleveland's status as a health care center.
The Medical Mart will have four floors with different themes.The first floor will be Health and Home Care. The second floor space will focus on People, Patients and Caregivers. Clinical spaces is the third floor theme. Healthcare IT will be the subject on the fourth floor.
The project combines health care innovation, education and commerce. Its mission has been refined from an original concept of just a health care product exhibit space.
The Medical Mart is partnered with the Cleveland Convention Center's world-class trade show and conference rooms.
46 conventions are now booked.More than half the Medical Mart tenant space is filled.
Previously announced tenants included Cleveland State, Tri-C and the nonprofit BioEnterprise Inc.
Momentum for the project is picking up steam.
Earlier this month, developers of a competing center in Nashville announced they are suspending plans to build it.