VOL. 131 | NO. 211 | Friday, October 21, 2016
Medical District Begins Buy Local Program
BY MICHAEL WADDELL, Special to The Daily News
Nine hospitals and universities within the Memphis Medical District are inviting Memphis-based innovators, entrepreneurs and existing companies to help solve operational challenges within their supply chain.
Purchasing representatives of medical district institutions participating in the "Buy Local" program include (left to right): Eric Richardson (UTHSC), Michelle Newman (UTHSC), Brandon Wellford (Bioworks Foundation), Cynthia Bardwell (Methodist Le Bonheur), Steven Smith (Regional One Health), LeAnne Smith (Baptist) and Don Wideman (St. Jude).
A “Buy Local” business plan competition on Oct. 26 will mark the kickoff of the “Operation Opportunity” initiative, which will give incentives to small, locally owned businesses to develop purchasing relationships with the big hospitals and universities in the district.
The Memphis Medical District Collaborative (MMDC) is working with U3 Advisors and EPIcenter on the project, and participating Medical District institutions include St Jude Children’s Research Hospital/ALSAC, Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare, Regional One Health, University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center, Baptist College of Health Sciences, Southern College of Optometry and Bioworks Foundation.
“This is really a story about what can happen when you think about the collective demands of the institutions in the area,” said MMDC president Tommy Pacello.
The Medical District anchor tenants spend more than $1.2 billion in goods and services each year, with the potential for an estimated $350 million of that amount to be spent locally.
Jean Perdicaris and Gary Sprinkle enter Trolly Stop Market in the medical district for lunch.
“We’re capturing a big chunk of that – just over $50 million per year – and there’s an opportunity that when we look collectively at that demand we can begin to say ‘what if we were to think about repositioning some of that spend into local minority women-owned businesses,’ for example,” Pacello said.
The purchasing power of the district’s anchors bolsters numerous industries throughout the Memphis region, ranging from advanced medical imaging equipment to logistics needs to landscaping services to simple paper products for hospital bathrooms.
Project partner U3 Advisors is an advisory firm that assists universities and hospitals nationwide with the economic development in their neighborhoods, and the firm has worked with the Memphis Medical District anchors for the past two years on the overall revitalization of the area.
“The business plan competition is part of the broader redevelopment effort that’s happening within the Medical District with all of the major anchor institutions,” said Alex Feldman, vice president with U3 Advisors. “We’re working with them to leverage the economic impact from their employees, their students, and their purchasing to have a stronger impact locally within the neighborhood and the city.”
They created a local purchasing council, consisting of the heads of procurement at the local institutions, that meets monthly, and the idea for the competition came out of those meetings.
“They have not been able to find the right kind of business within Memphis that can provide certain services, so we’d like to open up the opportunity to entrepreneurs and small businesses in the Memphis community to address those needs during the competition,” Feldman said.
The institutions identified four categories in which a locally managed solution would add great value:
•Efficiency in end-to-end transportation management for patients and their families;
•Modular/mobile on-site maintenance for fleet and industrial equipment;
•On-demand burst staffing platform for quick turnaround projects;
•Software solutions for managing vendor contract relationships.
With bursts of staffing needs, the institutions often have a need to hire people for a quick project or to organize volunteers quickly to provide support for fundraising initiatives or mailings.
The Buy Local Business Plan competition will be launched on Wednesday, Oct. 26, from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at High Cotton Brewery. Competing groups will be able to sign up and hear from the anchors’ purchasing representatives about specific areas that they would like to see addressed.
The competition is open to anyone, and more than 30 RSVP’s had already been received from entrepreneurs by mid-October.
Four prize packages will include $20,000 in business support capital and $5,000 in customized business development training through EpiCenter, which supports entrepreneurship and business creation. Funding for the prizes came from the participating institutions and from philanthropic support.
After the event, there will be a chance to compete online. The winners will be selected by the end of the year, and the MMDC will work with them next year on their new ventures.
“The hope is that we can generate businesses that one of the institutions needs now and then they can possibly benefit more of the institutions in the future,” Feldman said.