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Stark Development Corp. seeks additional mill from county to provide money to St. Joseph's Hospital

Stark Development Corp. hopes the county will consider adding a mill for economic development to secure more funding for St. Joseph's Hospital and Health Center over the next few years.

Gaylon Baker, executive vice president of Stark Development Corp., presented a request to the Stark County Commission this week to include in its 2013 budget one additional mill for economic development, bringing the total to 2 mills.

He said the plan would be to use the additional mill through 2016.

"We'd like to give a $100,000 donation for those next years with (county commission's) help," Baker said. "What we would do with that mill would be dedicate the entire mill to the St. Joseph's Hospital Foundation. We would pass through that 1 mill and add whatever was necessary to make it $100,000."

Ken Zander, chairman of the County Commission, said he thinks each of the county commissioners should visit with Baker about the request, as well as other possibilities for helping the hospital before the commission makes a decision.

While energy development is a large driver of the local economy, Baker said support of other industries, including health care, is vital.

"The things that are happening are affecting us all," he said. "We're all about the quality of community, the quality of business opportunities. We want to see those things that are going to last and persevere beyond any anomalies in the economy. And of course, we've seen it all before, and we ask ourselves when it's going to go away or what is going to happen to it five years from now?"

According to Stark Development Corp.'s 2012 annual report, Stark County's unemployment rate dropped from 2 percent in November 2010 to 1.6 percent in November 2012.

In comparison, the statewide unemployment rate during the same time was 3.3 percent and 2.8 percent, respectively.

"We're having a really nice surge right now in energy discovery, but we know that that can't last forever necessarily," Baker said. "You hear different stories about the different formations that they are going into and that's very good for us as a region, as a whole. We'll continue to see oil development, but we don't have to put all of our eggs in that basket.

"The new hospital will be a fantastic economic engine for our region," he said. "The fact that we have a couple of new hospital employees who come from a wide area around Dickinson means everybody gets a little piece of that action. Those are long-term jobs that we hope can make medical a much larger engine for this area than it has ever been and stopping the leakage of people to Bismarck or the next biggest town which seems to be attractive to people."

Reed Reyman, president and CEO of St. Joseph's Hospital, could not be reached for comment.