Bemidji Wellness Center Project Pauses as Sanford Health Steps Back as Owner and Operator
Plans for the Bemidji wellness center in the railroad corridor have been put on hold after Sanford Health announced they will not be owning or operating the building.
The announcement, made at a railroad corridor meeting on June 5, comes after a difficult financial year for the healthcare industry as a whole. Due to workforce shortages in Minnesota and inflation’s effects on healthcare, the financial responsibilities would not be within Sanford’s options.
Sanford Health also pointed out the center would be running at a deficit. Both Sanford and Greater Bemidji spoke about the impacts this development will have on the project.
“…continuing that $10 million community dividend that we have offered to provide our community for health and wellness, that will stay, but that change really is about operating and owning the facility,” explained Sanford Health of Bemidji CEO Karla Eischens.
“That moves us back a little bit to square one in a sense,” said Greater Bemidji Executive Director Dave Hengel. “It’s a bit of a hurdle. It doesn’t end the deal. The project is still going to move forward. It just changes how we get there, right? And so we’re still moving towards that direction. We’re still in the railroad corridor.”
Greater Bemidji will take on more of a leadership role with this development. Hengel mentioned at a Bemidji City Council meeting that same night that Greater Bemidji aims to stay in the railroad corridor as the development of that area is a major selling point to investors. The wellness center would also provide an estimated $90 million in tax base for Bemidji.
There are no plans on who will operate the wellness center at this time. Updates on the wellness center project are not expected for another six months while Greater Bemidji and its partners discuss what to do next.