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MiBiz with Mark Sanchez

Mark Sanchez
Mark Sanchez

We talk about BHSH System rebranding as Corewell Health, the SOAR fund, and insulin in Michigan

Patrick Center: Wednesday afternoon, time for our bi-monthly conversation with MIBiz senior writer Mark Sanchez. Big news, BHSH System has been re-branded. There's a name.

Mark Sanchez: It's gone. It's now Corewell Health. That's what they're now calling it. This was announced Tuesday morning here in Grand Rapids, Corewell Health has become the permanent name for that big statewide health system that was created back in February when Spectrum Health and Beaumont Health merged. They took on a temporary name, BHSH system. Here this week, after working on this for a number of months they came up with Corewell Health, which is basically, you know, really talking to the CEO over there, talked about this is really the core of what they do is health and keeping people well and helping people improve their health. So they blend “core” and “well” and

you've got the new name for the biggest health system in Michigan now.

PC: Now, of course, there is that transition of signage and marketing and all that goes with it.

MS: Tina Freese Decker mentioned that this is going to roll out over a couple of years with replacing signs. Remember they have 22 hospitals across the state, hundreds of doctors offices and outpatient care centers. So come 2023 at the first of the year is when that process starts. And she said you can expect quite a robust marketing campaign to brand this health system and to spread awareness of Corewell Health. So this is going to take some time and we're getting a few e-mails here this week of people reacting to the name. Of course when everybody does a rebranding a lot of folks want to throw darts at it… I remember many years ago when they chose Spectrum Health as the name. There are some folks that kind of the ‘meh’ reaction to it. But it will go forward and this is the name. Now the interesting part of this announcement Tuesday was that the folks at Spectrum Health and Beaumont had promised from day one that they’d search for this permanent name, and sought to identify this name that would brand this parent health system, they would maintain those legacy names to the local hospital such as Blodgett in East Grand Rapids, Butterworth Hospital in downtown Gran Rapids, DeVos Children’s, and Beaumont over in Southeast Michigan. So those will all stay, kin of iconic names of each of those local markets.

PC: We're talking with MiBiz senior writer Mark Sanchez. The SOAR Fund

is paying dividends, in really, it seems, a short amount of time.

MS: Yeah, this was this big billion-dollar fund that the legislature and the governor created almost a year ago. And one of the complaints we've heard for years from economic developers across the state is many of the southern states, Texas, the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee…Kentucky has these large funds that provided some nice incentives for manufacturers to come down there and make a business investment in their state. Remember a year ago, Ford Motor Company made a big announcement that really got the attention of folks in Michigan doing an 11-billion dollar project down in Tennessee and Kentucky for electric vehicles and batteries. So you had some scrambling in Lansing and the legislature created the SOAR Fund that’s short for Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve Fund. Basically to assist major economic development projects. And since, we've seen some projects - mostly in the auto industry as that industry electrifies, we've seen some big project's by GM and Ford and then last week we saw two major projects for electric batteries for electric vehicles. You got Goshen up in Mecosta county in the Big Rapids area, it’s a major project that's going to bring thousands of jobs there. You saw another one with the company over in Wayne county. And so, this SOAR Fund, you know, in talking to…in a press conference the other day last week with Quentin Messer who runs the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, he said straight up, this fund has made a difference in the lending needs of the battery and electric vehicle plants. He said without this assistance, these investments would have gone elsewhere. And you always have the debate on whether this is something the state should do, whether the state should be offering these kind of incentives. But the automotive industry is really at a pivotal point here. It's electrifying and that is the future. So do you get in the game and compete for these investments? There's one research report that said that in the electrification of the industry the auto companies are spending more than 500 billion dollars over the next several years to transition the industry. So does your state compete to help pave the way for some of these projects? Or does Michigan not compete and risk losing all those investments to some of the other states, mostly the southern states that will offer those investments? That the debate that's always going to occur. But right now we know for sure as we’re talking to economic developers and business advocates for a story we did this week in MiBiz, they’re saying that the fund is beginning to make a difference in bringing some of those major manufacturing investments into Michigan.

PC: We don't to go too far south to see where the competition lies. Ohio on Tuesday announcing that Honda in a joint venture with LG Energy Solutions of South Korea, they plan to build a three and a half billion-dollar battery factory in rural southern Ohio, hiring twenty-two-hundred people to staff it as the company starts to turn the state into its North American electric vehicle hub. So the competition is all around us.

MS: Then where do you want investments to go? Least Ohio with staying in the industrial Midwest? And of course, LG has a large presence, over in Holland here on the lakeshore. So that's kind of the core debate to offer these and make sure the industry transitions it stays here in the Midwest, it stays here in Michigan or does it go south? So that's kind of the underlying issue here. But right now as I said, what we have the [unintelligible] folks are really crediting this fun with making the difference in four major projects in just less than a year.

PC: Mark Will wrap up with another one of your stories. And the headline is that Governor Gretchen Whitmer directs state agencies to explore launching insulin manufacturing in Michigan. So again, keeping that manufacturing base here.

MS: The argument, again, should the state do this and the state not to the bottom line. The price of insulin has been going up and up and up for years to the point where a lot of folks who require insulin to control their regard to [unintelligible], they're skipping doses or taking less per dose. And that's leading to some health problems for folks who will be the medication to control their diabetes. Both become a public health issue. And what the governor issued last week was an executive order. Basically directing state agencies can you take a look at this, is there a way to partner with the [unintelligible] to develop some lower cost or buy similar versions of insulin to distribute or can the state do some bulk purchasing using the state's purchasing power or just outright in Michigan establish and implement a manufacture in the state. This is the question the governor put out there last weekend. The agency has until Mid-December to kind of come back with a response and formulate a plan. Is this something the state can do is the sole cause the state should do so? So we'll see the bottom line, this is where the issue is going to cost of insulin has gotten to the point becoming a public health issue that obviously the governor feels the state needs to intervene and get involved in the market.

PC: MiBiz senior writer Mark Sanchez, thank you so much.

MS: Thank you, sir.

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.
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