Organizers of the Illinois Medical District in Springfield are looking for ideas and trying to correct a few misconceptions.
A consulting firm hired to work with the district - bounded by 11th Street, Walnut Street, North Grand Avenue and Madison Street - plans to conduct interviews the next couple of weeks with community leaders on ways to market the area as a site for health-care and medical research facilities.
Letters requesting 20- to 25-minute phone interviews went out this week from the Hill & Knowlton consulting firm.
"Our first goal is to find out how accurate perceptions are about the medical district and what it was created to accomplish. There have been some misconceptions all along," said Michael Boer, president of the medical district's governing commission.
Boer said the primary misconceptions are that the district has taxing powers - it does not - that its main purpose is to buy and clear land for medical facilities, and that the district can offer financial incentives such as tax increment financing.
The letter has gone out to health-care administrators, real-estate developers, property owners in the district, government officials, members of the media and biotechnology firms in other states.
Responses will be used to help create a marketing plan. It also is one of the first formal steps for the medical district commission since the Springfield City Council approved a master plan for the area earlier this month.
The first meeting of the commission since the master-plan approval is scheduled for Thursday.
Boer said much of the development within a Chicago medical district came from companies and health-care facilities already in the district. The Springfield district includes three of the city's major health-care facilities: St. John's Hospital, Memorial Medical Center and the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.
"We think a lot of the potential business development is already there. It is just a matter of nurturing it," said Boer.
Results of the interviews should be ready in time for a Feb. 18 meeting of the commission, and a marketing strategy should be completed by the end of May.
Suggestions also are being accepted on the medical district Web site, www.springfieldmedicaldistrict.org.
Tim Landis can be reached at 788-1536 or email@example.com.