story and photos by Kim Souza
It’s been a big week for downtown Rogers with two major investment announcements, a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market and a new Mercy health clinic. Mercy and Wal-Mart are each laying down major investments across Benton County this year.
In the past nine months, Mercy NWA has invested about $20 million into three new clinics and more than 40,000 square feet of expanded health care across Northwest Arkansas. The clinics are in Bella Vista and Centerton, with a behaviorial health center at the Rogers hospital. Wednesday’s (April 9) groundbreaking marks Mercy’s fourth new clinic in recent months. Mercy said it has signed a long-term lease with Mathias Properties who will own the new building.
“Our shovels are being put to use, that’s for sure,” said Dr. Steve Goss, Mercy Clinic president.
The new downtown Rogers clinic is located at 613 N. Second St. Plans call for a 7,500-square-feet facility that will employ three doctors, one nurse practitioner and 15 other healthcare and support staff. The new clinic is expected to open this fall.
“It’s an exciting time at Mercy. We tell our doctors and co-workers to hold on, because as long as the needs in our community grow, so shall we. And here we are breaking ground again today with the goal of placing healthcare closer to home for our patients and their families,” Goss told the crowd at Wednesday’s groundbreaking.
The facility also will house radiology and laboratory services in addition to primary care.
“When a patients comes to see us, the goal is to be able to meet all of their needs right there,” Goss said. “If they need a lab drawn or an x-ray taken, being able to say, ‘step right into this room,’ versus drive five miles across town is a good thing, and it is the right thing to do in providing true patient care. To keep our community healthy, we must make health care as convenient as it can possibly be.”
Rogers Mayor Greg Hines said this is a major anchor for the downtown area and falls within the city’s plan to redevelop the neighborhood just north of the brick street district.
Harps Foods invested in that area several years ago, Casey General Store followed and the new Mercy Clinic site is adjacent to those businesses. He said the city needs to do more infrastructure work in the immediate area north of downtown, adding that the city could partner with businesses who plan new or redevelopments to get this done.
“As we continue to grow, it is vitally important for the success of Rogers as a sustainable community to have a strong and vibrant and downtown. One that allows folks to not only work downtown but to live downtown. This is key to attract the new people who are coming to Rogers and wanting to live downtown,” Hines said.
A recent survey completed by the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce indicated that residents want to see more housing and businesses local downtown. Steve Cox, economic development director for the Rogers-Lowell Chamber, said the new Mercy clinic and the Walmart grocery are the kind of the investments that can ignite other developments. He said some of the older buildings downtown are getting a facelift and there is a new sense of awareness about the importance of the downtown heritage.
“I firmly believe Northwest Arkansas can be a healthcare destination. Just like retail, supply chain or food processing, I believe healthcare can be a major pillar for future growth in this region. I am waiting for the day I get on a plane and read in an airline magazine about some new doctor or healthcare treatment that can be gotten here in Northwest Arkansas,” Hines said.
Hines joked that the new clinic that was dedicated to Dick and Nancy Trammel, will be the closest to their home.
Mercy honored the Trammels for their service over the years in helping to raise funds for the nonprofit healthcare provider. Dick Trammel has been on the hospital board during the building campaign and he serves on the foundation and hospital board of directors. Nancy has served on the Women with a Mission steering committee.