Woodbury is absolutely, positively not changing its name to Doctor City, Minn.
But that might not be a bad idea, after the city announced recently that more than 300 health-related businesses have moved into town.
These range from sprawling hospitals to boutique chiropractors to kidney centers. If anyone needs to floss, the city’s dental offices are waiting — 73 of them.
“It’s extraordinary the way Woodbury attracts people,” said Brian Delgado, spokesman for Park Dental, which left Lake Elmo to open its third office in Woodbury. “I can’t think of anyone else who is as successful at this as Woodbury.”
ONE-FOURTH OF JOBS IN MEDICAL FIELD
Community Development Director Janelle Schmitz credits the city’s long-range planning for the medical migration. Schmitz said currently about one-fourth of Woodbury’s jobs — more than 6,000 — are in the medical field.
For cities hungry for economic growth, medical businesses are highly prized. They pay high wages, the buildings are attractive, they don’t pollute and they draw patients from a wide area.
“Medical businesses are very desirable, from an economic development perspective,” said Schmitz.
The city has become a regional draw for patients and for more health-related businesses.
“It’s a destination,” said Len Kaiser, chief administrative officer of Entira Family Clinics, which is expanding its Woodbury office. “A community of businesses has sprung up, which rely on each other. It’s a whole neighborhood of providers.”
‘MEDICAL CAMPUS DISTRICT’
The medical growth began modestly, when the city set up a “medical campus district” around Woodwinds Health Campus in 2007.
In a way, it was a token gesture. This zone gave no incentives to medical businesses, no tax breaks and no easing of the city’s zoning rules. Schmitz said medical business could have moved there, or anywhere else in Woodbury. It was as if a city simply declared an “aerospace zone” and expected rocket launchers move in.
But apparently the zone had symbolic importance. It made businesses aware that the city welcomed them, said Schmitz.
Several moved into the 120-acre zone. Medical businesses trickled – then flooded — into other Woodbury locations.
Schmitz said they were drawn by the same factors that make Woodbury attractive to retail — access to two freeways and a broad age-range of residents. The growing population meant additional workers for the businesses.
Entira’s Kaiser said the household income is high, and people are more likely to have private insurance — a plus for any health care provider.
The growth developed its own momentum. Businesses found it convenient to be located near supporting businesses, such as drug stores and supply stores.
MORE PROJECTS EXPECTED
The experience of Park Dental is typical.
Park Dental dentist Matthew Hendrickson said the business originally opened in Lake Elmo. But from his current office windows, Hendrickson now looks across Interstate 94 at the medical buildings going up in the CityPlace development in Woodbury.
He decided to make the move — though Park Dental already had two locations in Woodbury.
The new clinic opened in in June. “Woodbury has a good base of patients, and it’s only going to get better,” said Hendrickson.
What’s ahead? More medical construction. Approved projects to be built this year or next include the 748 Bielenberg Medical Office building, CityPlace Medical III, CityPlace Healthcare Specialty Center and Heartland Dental.