Swedish/Issaquah is projected to create 1,000 jobs
July 5, 2011
By Warren Kagarise
Hospital could also prompt other businesses to consider city
Swedish/Issaquah is expected to deliver about 1,000 jobs to Issaquah and, city officials and hospital executives hope, spur more commercial construction in the neighborhood surrounding the hospital.
The initial phase, a medical office building, is responsible for creating 450 jobs. Come November, as the portion containing the hospital beds opens to patients, the job figure is expected to rise to 700. By July 2012, as Swedish/Issaquah prepares to celebrate a year in the community, the total should rise to about 1,000 jobs.
Though determining the economic impact related to the $365 million hospital could require years, officials remain optimistic about the possibilities.
Issaquah Highlands developer Port Blakely Communities announced a number of residential construction projects in recent months, but plans for a cinema and grocery store in the neighborhood remain unrealized. Officials said a 175-bed hospital could provide a boon in the surrounding neighborhood.
“It has spurred interest in the rest of the Port Blakely development that was kind of stagnant,” said Kevin Brown, Swedish senior vice president and chief administrative officer.
Indeed, the hospital generated interest long before workers completed the structure.
Crews started grading land for construction in August 2009. Throughout the 22-month construction process, about 500 workers headed to the site on a typical day.
In the meantime, plans for a hospital created interest for other medical office buildings in Issaquah, city Economic Development Manager Dan Trimble said.
“Having a major medical facility like Swedish certainly helps in terms of recruiting for quality of life,” Trimble continued. “It’s one of the things that people look for. What’s your standard of health care in the community?”
Swedish/Issaquah is also a selling point as city leaders attempt to lure businesses to Issaquah, because potential residents consider access to emergency care and convenient access to specialists as pluses, he said.
The potential also exists for connections between Swedish/Issaquah and other workplaces. The wellness team at City Hall, for instance, reached out early to request physicians to speak to municipal employees.
“From another community standpoint, it really adds to the idea that the community is looking for an additional service closer to home,” Trimble said.
The hospital could also spur indirect jobs in nonmedical fields, such as hospitality and retail.
“Having something as significant as Swedish in the highlands does let other entities that might want to develop there see that there is something important on which they could build,” Mayor Ava Frisinger said. “It’s definitely an incentive.”
The opening also reignited interest in a proposed hotel on a parcel near the hospital. Bellevue College also plans to open a highlands campus in the years ahead. Officials indicated potential partnerships between the college and hospital could materialize.
“It is a catalytic element, it really is,” Frisinger added.
Hiring for the future
In February, hospital administrators started hiring employees for the July opening and filled most open slots by late June. Positions for the November phase opened in mid-June. The recruitment effort included Eastside job fairs.
“A lot of people opted to apply for these jobs because they live in the community and they want to be able to serve the community where they live,” said Susan Terry, Swedish/Issaquah director of interventional services.
The hospital also attracted interest from employees in other Swedish facilities, especially people searching for a shorter commute.
Dr. John Milne, vice president of medical affairs for Swedish/Issaquah and the emergency and ambulatory care centers in Redmond and Mill Creek, plans to divide workdays among other facilities, but the Issaquah hospital is home base.
“I live here in Issaquah, so it certainly is much more to my benefit to be able to have a five-minute drive to work instead of driving to Mill Creek every day,” he said.
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.