HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A new study by the University of Southern Mississippi shows that Forrest General Hospital, Hattiesburg Clinic and Southern Bone & Joint have a combined economic impact on the Pine Belt of about $1.4 billion annually.
"I knew it would be big, I did not know it would exceed $1 billion, that was a surprise," said Tommy Thornton, executive director of Hattiesburg Clinic.
The study, done by USM's Trent Lott National Center for Excellence in Economic Development and Entrepreneurship, also shows that the three entities generate more than $187 million each year in federal, state and local taxes and they support 10,670 jobs.
"We're invested, we spend money here, we spend a tremendous amount of money locally and regionally every year," said Evan Dillard, president and CEO of Forrest General Hospital. "It's important for us to be seen as a strong economic partner as well as a healthcare provider."
"The takeaway is that financial impact translates into two things, number one, the amount of employment here for the city of Hattiesburg and number two, the quality and accessibility of care that is second to none in a city like Hattiesburg, very, very Impressive," said David Burckel, CEO of Southern Bone & Joint Specialists.
The study was done over a six-month period and used 2016 data including pay and benefits, number of employees, revenue and expenditures.
"I think the sheer size of the healthcare contribution that they make in this region, the 19-county region, was something that had not been done before," said Shannon Campbell, director of the Trent Lott National Center for Excellence in Economic Development and Entrepreneurship. "It was a lot bigger than what we even anticipated it to be."
She added, "We had a research team from USM and an independent consultant to help verify the data for us and provide the feedback and peer review it for us."
Forrest General Hospital commissioned the study and paid approximately $50,000 for it.