September 20, 2011
But it would be a mistake to treat medical education and research like it’s some new song from an old band we all liked back in the ’70s. You don’t just drop the semiconductor wafer, pick up a scalpel, and keep going the way you’ve been going. This isn’t simply another version of something we already know.
This is new, and it’s potentially bigger than any of us have ever seen.
By coming together and making a wise investment in medical education and research, we’ll dramatically enlarge the scope of our knowledge-based economy. Austin would suddenly be running in a race for discovery and healing that stretches from Houston to Hong Kong.
Our big hometown university up the street likes to say, “What starts here changes the world.” Well, these are the areas where the world is changing – health, medicine, life science, biotechnology.
So make no mistake: If we don’t start here, right now, the world will change and leave us behind.
But this is about more than economic development. In fact, for years, Central Texans have struggled to align the forces that allow people to work here with the qualities – and, in some case, the necessities – that make them want to live here.
And let’s be honest about this:
An individual’s pursuit of happiness hasn’t always kept up with the region’s pursuit of prosperity.
Highways are jammed with traffic. Schools are juggling more kids and less money.
Homes are still too expensive for too many families. Opportunity is still too rare in too many neighborhoods. Water is too scarce for the people we know are coming.
And, of course, healthcare is too inefficient and expensive for a significant percentage of this region to afford.
We cannot – we simply cannot – prosper in this new century unless we remember economic development affects things besides the economy, and act knowing that.
So we have to look for opportunities that will both add jobs and make life better for the communities from which those jobs are filled.
In short, a medical school and health science center represent an enhancement, an improvement, of our economic development model by also enhancing people’s quality of living – they live better and longer at the same time the economy is stronger and more modern.
Establishing a medical school and health science center stands as a unique chance to simultaneously fulfill the vast promise of our intellectual economy while meeting the real healthcare needs of Central Texans.
In this way, I think it represents the pillar of what will be a fourth transitional period for our region. We’ve had our Settlement, Stability and Smart transitions – think of this one as “Synthesis.”