Midwestern University plans to build a community dental clinic, more parking facilities and additional upgrades at its Downers Grove campus in a $289.8 million project that started Monday.
The new facilities are expected to open in 2013 and bring an additional 500 students to the campus. The new clinic will staff full-time faculty overseeing hands-on education for students who will provide affordable dental care to residents of DuPage County. The project is expected to produce about 2,900 jobs for the region, including both construction positions and about 125 permanent long-term jobs.
"We're optimistic about our mission here at Midwestern," said Kathleen Goeppinger, the university's president and CEO. "We're teaching health care at a time when we need health care professionals in our society. We'll provide service to others and teach the healing arts to students."
Midwestern University is more than 100 years old and is mostly known for providing health science-related master's and doctoral degrees with about 2,500 students in Downers Grove and another 2,600 at its Arizona campus. The private, not-for-profit school was founded in 1900 in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago and moved to Downers Grove in 1986.
The university has just opened a dental school, and this new clinic will offer more on-site learning for those students, Goeppinger said.
The project broke ground on Monday on about 10 acres of corn field, but it's become the field of dreams for both university and local government officials alike. Besides adding jobs for the area, the expanded campus will have a ripple effect on the local economy by fueling businesses, local restaurants and hotels, said Greg Bedalov, president of Choose DuPage. He was also president of Downers Grove Economic Development Corp. last year when plans for the project came to fruition.
"This really happened at light speed," said Bedalov.
The prospect of more students and more income to local businesses along with more jobs has encouraged local officials.
"Even after this project is finished, Midwestern has planned for more future growth," Bedalov said.