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Woodbury's medical industry saw large growth in 2016

The shell of TRIA Orthopaedic Center at CityPlace goes up on the landscape behind Woodbury Lakes shopping center in December 2016. (Bulletin file photo)1 / 2
The office building at 500 Bielenberg Drive, commonly called the Hartford Building, has seen a resurgence in past months since the insurer laid off 190 employees from the Woodbury location in 2015. (Bulletin photo by Youssef Rddad)2 / 2

Woodbury is quickly becoming the east metro's destination for medical care, according to a new survey detailing the city's steady commercial development growth in 2016.

The city's Annual Community Development Report, which will be presented to city leaders and officials later this year, shows that one in every five jobs in Woodbury are within the medical industry. Though much of the report centers on growth in the medical industry, commercial growth also remains steady.

In the report, Woodbury Community Development Director Dwight Picha wrote that the city surpassed one million-square-feet of medical space this past year.

"Looking back at the many significant developments of the past year, it is clear that Woodbury's status as a health care destination is secure," he wrote.

The most recent data collected also doesn't factor plans to build a 50,000-square-foot medical office announced in January at the 100-acre CityPlace development.

The home of the former State Farm Insurance regional headquarters and call center, CityPlace developers plan to build the new medical office directly on top of where the insurer's building once stood vacant for several years.

As the largest city in Washington County, Woodbury provides more than a quarter of total jobs in the county, and that amount may continue to grow.

Last year, 63 new businesses opened their doors in Woodbury, the report said.

For the third year in a row, the Woodbury Area Chamber of Commerce continued to hold its rank as the fastest growing chamber in Minnesota, said Chamber President Barbara Tuccitto Warren.

Now the 10th-largest business network in the state, Tuccitto Warren said she attributes the chamber's growth to the area's rapid expansion, which in turn has led to more members.

"The growth that is taking place in Woodbury is well planned and well executed," she said. "The commercial and residential growth of the city of Woodbury provides the chamber to do what we do best: connect commerce and community."

The city also saw plans for 260,000-square-feet of new commercial construction in 2016, according to the report. That amount, while less compared to 2015, is the second-highest number of commercial construction since 2007.

According to a survey included in the annual report, HealthEast remains the largest private employer, with 895 employees working in Woodbury.

The 3M Co. is now the second-largest private employer with 500 employees, followed by Summit Orthopedics.

Woodbury Assistant Community Development Director Janelle Schmitz said the employer surveys only accounts for businesses that voluntarily offer information to the city. The city also doesn't ask whether the jobs are full- or part-time.

Globe University, which has begun closing its midwest campuses and Woodbury headquarters last month, wasn't included on the list, Schmitz said. In 2015, the school was the 11th-largest employer in the city with 226 employees, according to that year's report.

Schmitz said the 500 Bielenberg building, sometimes referred to as the Hartford building, has also seen a resurgence since the large insurer announced substantial layoffs in 2015.

Though the Hartford logo remains on the entrance signs and building, "the building isn't vacant," Schmitz said.

She added a number of Hartford employees still work out of the office building, though far fewer than in previous years.

The annual report will be presented to Woodbury City Council later in 2017.

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