Med Mart Story Draws FitzGerald's Attention, Clarifying Remarks From GM


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If you picked up your Sunday Plain Dealer this week for your weekly supply of Hot Pocket coupons, you may have accidentally stumbled on their most recent Med Mart article, which follows up on Scene's Med Mart cover story and interview with GM Brian Casey last week.

If you'll remember, it was in those pages that we learned the original model for the Med Mart, one that relies on tenants showcasing expensive wares for doctors and hospitals who would browse through the mart like a stay-at-home mom at the Coach store, isn't likely to work. The new model would rely on continuing education. And maybe an Auntie Anne's.

Casey's words, which signaled a change in the Med Mart's publicly stated mission, caught the attention of County boss Ed FitzGerald. It seems the county believes if it turns on the waterhose of public funding for you, it, and the public would like to know what you're doing with the resulting geyser.

The pertinent parts of the PD's story, quoted below just for you:

Casey backtracked from his Scene remarks in an interview last week with The Plain Dealer. He said he overstated the role education would play in the mart. But he also said medical professionals will not come to Cleveland in the promised droves unless the project includes on-site continuing education options.

"There's a bit more of an accentuation on the education and training aspect, but that's always been planned," Casey said. "The ultimate goal is to have the convention center as full as possible. I will tell you right now: Physicians — the reason they attend conferences is for continuing education. It will drive commercial interaction into the medical mart."

And about FitzGerald, who dialed up Casey after reading Scene's story to get some clarity on the situation. (Also, to double check about the Auntie Annes idea.):

"The concern I articulated is that when it's a public project with public dollars, a private organization may not think twice about adjusting its business model," the first-year county executive said. "But when you're in a public, taxpayer system, you have to communicate."

FitzGerald added that he is not opposed to MMPI's greater emphasis on education, "but they've got to do a better job explaining what type of benchmarks they want to hit."

While Casey wouldn't go into specific numbers with the paper, when asked about a 50-50 split between education and products/services, he said that'd be the general idea.

Until 2012, of course, when the mission will likely change again. This time with a new focus on video arcades for teenagers and shoe outlets.

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