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Rockdale to pitch for Emory cancer center
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Local leaders will make another bid to attract a cancer treatment facility to Rockdale County, but this time it’ll be for Emory’s recently announced center specializing in cutting edge proton therapy.

Development Authority board chairman Mike Sullivan pointed out that the location of the $200 million center was yet undetermined, according to a Atlanta Journal Constitution article. Rockdale had recently campaigned for a $150 million center from the Chicago-based Cancer Treatment Centers of America and was one of the top two finalists before losing out to Coweta County in 2009.

“We happen to have an entire two year’s worth of work,” said Sullivan. “Someone needs to put it under their arm and tote themselves down to Emory and knock on some doors.”

“Done,” said Glenn Sears, director of the Rockdale Conyers Economic Development Council.

Sullivan continued, “Obviously they want to probably keep it in midtown, but by God, we’ll make a hell of a deal. We’ll give them a better deal than they’re going to get in DeKalb County.”

Development Authority member Rick Simons said such a center might be in direct competition with existing local medical facilities, such as Rockdale Medical Center, by being able to offer cheaper use of the imaging machines and technologies that come along with a cancer center.

“Emory is very aggressive in competing with Piedmont and WellStar to try and capture the healthcare market in Atlanta,” Simons said. “They just recently bought up the majority of the primary care physicians in Covington. From the medical perspective, there’s some angst about Emory.”

“I’m pointing out in the medical community there’s going to be some sensitivity,” Simons said. “You have an existing facility with 1,800 employees that could be impacted by that.”

 “So we don’t aggressively seek it?” Sullivan asked.

Simons replied, “No, I just want to make everyone aware there are some concerns there.”

RMC, which is owned by Lifepoint Hospitals, had recently purchased a $2 million Da Vinci surgical robot and built an $8 million outpatient imaging center. LifePoint completed the purchase of RMC in 2009.

Commission Chairman Richard Oden pointed out a cancer treatment center could also bring 700-plus employees that would make purchases in Rockdale.

Sears pointed out that in Coweta County where the CTA facility was still being built, medical facilities were growing up around it. “They’ve got hospitals lined up like gas stations,” he said.