Even the doctors feel smarter in the new $19 million Neshoba County General Hospital where patients started being admitted nearly three weeks ago.

The state-of-the-art facility built on the Holland Avenue campus and connected to the original four-story 50-year-old hospital is monumental for our community and long overdue.

A strong, viable hospital is critical, not only to our health, but to good economic development.

While providing excellent patient care in the cramped and outdated quarters of the old facility, the need for a new hospital building was undeniable a decade ago.

But the issue for city and county leaders for a decade was how. A $6 million parks expansion initially gained financial priority. But after a season, a few business leaders stepped up independently to insist on the critical need for a new hospital.

While full details of Neshoba General's affiliation with Meridian's Anderson's have yet to be made public, Anderson's generous investment in Neshoba County is appreciated and was necessary for the county-owned facility to construct a new facility.

With the uncertainty of U.S. healthcare, now is probably a good time to have a proven partner like Anderson.

But their generosity and good track record do not negate the necessity for public accountability and transparency.

If you haven't seen the hospital, it may be worth getting sick to see. It's nothing short of amazing. It's impressive!

This new hospital will boost our ability to attract new jobs, especially after the obstetrics floor opens in the second phase.

Neshoba County has had a long record of success with industry, especially over the last five decades, from recruiting top companies such as U.S. Motors in the 1960s to nurturing and growing existing home-grown industries like Thomasson.

For Philadelphia and Neshoba County to continue to prosper, however, it is essential that new jobs be created.

Neshoba County recorded its weakest population growth in 30 years at the end of this past decade (2000-2010). The weak growth is in large part due to the loss of manufacturing jobs, more than 900 since 2001.

With unemployment hovering in double digits since January 2009, the challenge to create jobs hasn't been greater or more urgent in decades.

The economic impact of this hospital will be enormous, not to mention the other jobs that can be created.