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Ketchikan voters' support for expanding and remodeling the hospital has opened new vistas for the community.
All of them, independently and collectively, add up to economic development — infrastructure, jobs, services and a healthier Ketchikan.
The vote seals the deal with the state for $18 million for the hospital, hardly a sum the city and its voters would allow to slip through their fingers. But it was contingent on the community coming up with the balance of $43 million.
The hospital managers, PeaceHealth, will contribute $8 million toward equipping the expanding building.
The overwhelmingly favorable vote allows the groundbreaking to occur almost immediately.
This will invigorate the local economy, providing direct jobs and supporting the jobs that provide services to contractors as well as others who have a hand in construction.
The hospital project won't be completed over night, which means these will be long-term jobs and economic benefits at family supporting wages. It will mean increased sales in local stores.
The project also will signal to physicians here and prospective hires that Ketchikan values its medical community and wishes it to have the building it needs to do its fine work. This message will attract physicians to the community who would not care to work in inadequate surgical suites or offices, and secure those jobs for Ketchikan instead of another health care hub in another region of the state or out of Alaska.
With physicians come the nurses and other support staff. This project will help to secure more positions than might be possible without the expansion and renovation.
Cooperation between the community and the state has kept Ketchikan alive during difficult economic times. Together, the hospital project will be completed. A library has been built. A fire hall, swimming pool, port and harbors improvements, schools — name it and Ketchikan has worked hard and that work has paid off. State leadership, in particular Gov. Sean Parnell most recently, has worked right alongside Ketchikan.
Together, it's a successful effort to fund infrastructure and create a business-friendly environment. Businesses and employees need and seek these facilities, whether here for decades or new to the community.
In all of the excitement, it should be noted that not all voters supported the project. Undoubtedly, and in all sincerity, they had their concerns. It would be wise for the city, as owners of the hospital building, and PeaceHealth, which provides the hospital's management, to consider this.
But with the expanding and remodeling, it is hoped some of those worries will be addressed. If the medical community has the building and equipment it needs to continue to strive for its best, then health care can only become better in Ketchikan.
The project itself will solve problems well within and beyond its walls.
This is the most welcome economic development news Ketchikan has had in a while.