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Northeast Tennessee Regional Effort Behind First Pharmacy School Graduates

Friday, April 2, 2010 General News J E 4
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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn., April 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- When 66 newly-minted pharmacists at East Tennessee State University (ETSU) -- the first graduating class of the Gatton College of Pharmacy -- get their diplomas in a few weeks, it will be not only a personal triumph but also a victory of community spirit.

The school almost didn't happen. When the State of Tennessee committed funds for a new pharmacy program in Memphis, nearly 500 miles away from ETSU and Johnson City, business leaders across Northeast Tennessee took matters in their own hands, and raised funds.

"Had you asked many people throughout our community ten years ago, even those on campus, if they could imagine a college of pharmacy coming to ETSU, many probably would have said, no," said university President Paul E. Stanton Jr.

Stanton and other leaders recognized the need for pharmacists across Northeast Tennessee's eight, mostly rural, counties.

"ETSU received a groundswell of support for the College of Pharmacy from our local political and civic leaders, and from the business and health care communities," Stanton said.   To him, the pharmacy school located on the Veteran Affairs Medical Center Campus in Johnson City is a visible reminder of what can be achieved "if you match hard work, resolve, perseverance – and most of all, widespread community support."

The school's first graduation is a sweet moment for Stanton, who has "a clear memory of the regional teamwork that made it all possible."

It is also good news in the economic development community, which recognizes the importance of healthcare in attracting and retaining businesses and jobs.

"This event enhances our credibility as a market that is in good shape," said Tom Ferguson, CEO and president of the Regional Alliance for Economic Development for Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.

He says there are growing signs of a strong medical and biomedical community in Northeast Tennessee, and the presence of King Pharmaceutical, nationally recognized medical networking innovator CareSpark, the medical school at ETSU, Veterans Hospital, Niswonger Children's Hospital and two major healthcare systems here – Mountain States Health Alliance and Wellmont Health System – point to a healthy future for Northeast Tennessee.

For more information about the Tri-Cities of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, contact Tom Ferguson at the Regional Alliance at (423) 323-8107 or tferguson@alliancetnva.com.

Media representation: Clark Miller Communications at (865) 414-1908.

SOURCE Regional Alliance for Economic Development

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