Ground has been broken on a $63 million medical education building at University of Mississippi Medical Center. The 151,000 square foot facility will be the first such building built for the medical school since 1955. Construction is made possible by a Katrina Community Development Block Grant through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Governor Phil Bryant, Mayor Harvey Johnson, Speaker of the House of Representatives Phillip Gunn and State Treasurer Lynn Fitch joined Dr. James Keeton, Vice Chancellor of Health Affairs and Dean of the School of Medicine, for the ceremony on the corner of Peachtree Street and University Drive. This is “a bucket list day” for our school,” Dr. Keeton said.

Governor Bryant cited the goal of creating 1,000 new doctors by 2025 as a driver for not only Mississippi’s healthcare but for its economy. “This new facility has the ability to generate 19,290 jobs for our citizens,” the Governor said. “That’s like nine Toyota plants.”

“Mississippi is the most under served state, medically, in the nation,” Governor Bryant said. “That should surprise you, but we simply don’t have enough doctors. If you look at diabetes and heart disease, all those things that cause such a great loss in our society – the loss of life, the quality of life that exists in Mississippi and the need to improve it – so much of that goes back to a physician.”

Dr. Daniel Jones, Chancellor of the University of Mississippi said that this is a great day for the university and our state. “This is a monumental step in moving us forward,” Dr. Jones said. “The university is interested not only in being a fine institution, but also in making a difference in people’s lives. Because of this new medical school, lives will be changed in Mississippi,” Jones said.

“As we look forward to this next chapter, as well as the planned Mississippi Medical Corridor, we know that UMMC will continue to lead the way in providing premiere health care,  training the next generation of health professionals,” said Mayor Johnson. “I applaud Dr. Keeton and others here at UMMC for being excellent partners here in the city of Jackson.”

The new building will provide space for larger medical class sizes and help UMMC reach its goals. The school’s current facilities, minimally adequate for today’s class sizes, jeopardize the school’s ability to produce enough physicians for the state’s health-care needs. The new building will offer students a modern, high-quality education experience and prepare them to play a leading role in improving the state’s economy and the health of Mississippians.

The school of medicine expansion is expected to create over 900 jobs during construction.

Rendering, additional reporting from UMMC