Growth and expansion over the last few years has made Banner Health the leading employer in the City of Mesa.
From the creation of Cardon Children’s Medical Center to the new Banner Health Clinic being built in there, Banner is helping Mesa fill one of its goals created with Mayor Scott Smith’s HEAT initiative to add health care, education, aerospace, tourism and technology in the community.
Nearly 8,300 people were employed by Banner Health Systems in Mesa at the end of 2012. The No. 2 employer in the city is Mesa Unified School District, with about 8,000 employees. A decade ago, the school district held the No. 1 spot.
“Over the last five years, we have seen a large amount of growth in the need for health care. We have a long history in Mesa with Banner Desert Medical Center, which opened in 1973, and the Baywood facility, which opened in 1983,” said Becky Kuhn, president of the Arizona East Region for Banner.
During that same time, the school district has seen a shrinking student population and budget cuts, which has led to staff reductions and its drop from the No. 1 spot.
In just over 10 years, Banner has opened Cardon Children’s Medical Center in Mesa, transformed the Banner Mesa Medical Center at 1010 N. Country Club Dr. into a corporate center, opened Banner Heart Hospital in east Mesa and expanded the emergency department at Banner Desert Medical Center at 1400 S. Dobson Road.
“We think this trend of having more health care professionals in our community is going to continue and it’s something we want to see happen,” Smith told the Tribune last week. “We like the fact that we’ve not only become the local health care destination, but there are thousands of people from outside Arizona that come in for high quality care. That’s something that isn’t noticed as much.”
Also in the top 10 employers in the city is Mountain Vista Medical Center and Community Bridges, Inc., which provides behavioral health and substance abuse prevention and rehabilitation programs.
Banner is working to keep step with the increases in health care needs. The corporate center now houses the largest simulation facility in the country, Kuhn said, to train health care workers.
“In the future we expect to return to some health care shortage days, so we’re preparing for that through a number of avenues, partnerships with universities and colleges, to help prepare our future workforce,” she said.
Banner is currently adding two floors to Banner Baywood Medical Center, 6644 E. Baywood Ave., with 76 additional beds to open in the fall.
In fact, across the East Valley, Banner is creating a bigger presence. Health clinics are opening in Queen Creek, Gilbert and Chandler, as well as Mesa. Just south of U.S. 60 in Gilbert, Banner now has Banner Gateway Medical Center and the Banner M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, which is undergoing a $62 million expansion. Banner Ironwood Medical Center opened in San Tan Valley in November 2010.
“The East Valley is very much a hub for us,” Kuhn said.
Just this week, Mesa’s Economic Development Council Committee gave its “health care business update” to the Mesa City Council, showing how the city is researching market potential and future opportunities for growth.
The final market analysis will be done by March 30, with the committee spending the next month gathering input on the vision and goals.
Top Mesa Employers
Banner Health Systems || 8,287
Mesa Public Schools || 8,049
The Boeing Company || 4,700
City of Mesa || 3,657
Maricopa County Community College || 1,951
Gilbert Unified School District || 1,230
West Direct II Inc || 800
Empire Southwest || 573
Mountain Vista Medical Center || 530
Veolia Transportation || 504
SRP || 494
Community Bridges, Inc. || 450
Special Devices Inc. || 376
Source: Reference USA, MAG Employer Database, City of Mesa, Phoenix Business Journal, updated September 2012
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