Metro

Chafee ’75 returns from Houston tour

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, February 24, 2011

Governor Lincoln Chafee ’75 P’14 returned Monday from a two-day tour of the Texas Medical Center. The trip to Houston was the first in a series of tours that Chafee hopes will provide models for technology-fueled growth in Providence’s Jewelry District.

President Ruth Simmons, University of Rhode Island President David Dooley, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Keith Stokes accompanied the governor.

The Texas Medical Center, with its 49 institutions and hospitals, is the largest medical complex in the world, said Richard Wainerdi, the center’s president, chief executive officer and chief operating officer. It includes 13 hospitals and two medical schools making it “a mecca of sorts” for medical facilities, said Mike Trainor, Chafee’s spokesman.

Chafee’s first visit to Houston several years ago sparked the idea for a similar urban model in Rhode Island. The Jewelry District is poised to undergo considerable change in the coming years with the official opening of Brown’s new Medical Education Building and development of the land freed up by the relocation of I-195, Trainor said.

Businesses looking to locate near hospital facilities could take advantage of the highway plots, Trainor said, sparking economic development in the district.

In Houston, Chafee first met with corporate officers from the Texas Medical Center. He then met with research, academic and workforce enhancement directors as well as community leaders to discuss how the various institutions have affected the surrounding community, Wainerdi said.

The medical center’s success hinges on collaboration between its institutions, despite a potentially competitive business relationship, wrote Vice President for Public Affairs and University Relations Marisa Quinn, who also accompanied the delegation to Houston, in an e-mail to The Herald.

“It was an inspiring day, and while we have many challenges ahead … it is clear that we have significant assets, too — not the least of which is our capacity for collaboration,” Quinn wrote.

Chafee plans to visit four more cities within the next 60 days. His tentative next stop is Baltimore — home to Johns Hopkins University. Future visits will include Cleveland — home to the Cleveland Clinic — as well as Pittsburgh and Worcester, Mass., which boasts a sizeable medical district, Trainor said.

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