Canton’s Panther Creek Commerce Center has an attraction no other Mississippi mega site can offer — inclusion in a state Health Care Industry Zone.
The nearly 2,000-acre tract off Nissan Drive falls within the required five-mile radius of Madison River Oaks Medical Center in Canton. This qualifies prospective medical-related tenants of the megasite for such incentives as an accelerated, 10-year state income tax depreciation deduction and a sales tax exemption for equipment and materials purchases.
The 2012 establishment of the Health Care Industry Zone designations set the stage for the Panther Creek site to capitalize on Mississippi’s emerging medical research and development sector, said Tim Coursey, executive director of the Madison County Economic Development Authority.
“We have a strong effort under way to recruit bio-medical” and bio-tech companies, he said.
The effort began before Gov. Phil Bryant persuaded legislators to approve the health care industry zones and the incentives that accompany them. “The governor had a vision and we had the same one,” Coursey said.
“Ours actually started six years ago.”
That start came with Madison County’s two-year effort to become the replacement home for the federal biosafety Level 3 pathogen lab, which was to move from Plumb Island, N.Y., on Long Island’s North Shore.
The RFP the county put together landed it a third-place final ranking. The selection went to Manhattan, Kan., though the government has yet to go through relocation of the center that studies foot-and-mouth disease, and other contagious animal diseases.
“This effort proved we have the capability to grow a bio-medical sector in Mississippi,” Coursey said.
He said he and some other economic developers have been working the past three years to establish the sector. “We’re going to have some announcements about it soon,” Coursey added.
The announcements likely will include bio-medical, bio-tech and “straight-up medical companies,” he said.