Ark. Business: Hospital expansion, I-30 widening, jobs announcement

A Rogers hospital is gearing up for a major expansion. -THV11.com 04/28/16

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - A Rogers hospital is gearing up for a major expansion.

Mercy Northwest Arkansas on Wednesday announced a five-year, $247 million expansion project it said will create 1,000 new jobs.

Among the projects is a new 190,000 square-foot patient tower that will add more than 100 beds. Construction on that is set to begin in December or January.

The system also plans to add at least four new primary and specialty clinics in Benton and Washington counties.

The expansion comes has the system's hospitals and clinics are at "very high capacity," according to Eric Pianalto, Mercy Hospital's president.

Mercy's expansion adds to the long list of hospital construction projects in Arkansas. As Arkansas Business reported Monday, spending on health care-related construction projects in the state nearly doubled in 2015 compared with the previous year.

Also Wednesday, two influential Little Rock groups gave their blessing to the latest plan to widen Interstate 30.   

The Downtown Little Rock Partnership said its executive committee supports the state Highway and Transportation Department's six-lane "diamond" plan, unveiled at a special meeting Tuesday night.

The Little Rock Technology Park Authority Board also endorsed the plan in a special meeting Wednesday. That endorsement, however, is contingent upon design changes that will create a more pedestrian-friendly Capitol Avenue.

The controversial expansion plan has been closely watched by stakeholders on both sides of the river, including in the River Market District and downtown Little Rock, where developers are beginning work on Phase 1 of the $100 million Tech Park.

And finally, Arkansas Economic Development Commission Executive Director Mike Preston is planning another new jobs announcement.

The announcement is set for 11 a.m. Thursday in Paragould.

There's no word yet on what company the announcement involves. Arkansas Business will have more on this later.


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