MARION - The Marion location of the Pet Wellness Center will expand later this year, moving into a multi-million-dollar, 17,000 square-foot facility across Illinois 13.
Owner and veterinarian, Dr. Craig Smith, said that plans for the new construction began in 2014 out of a desire to provide more services to patients. The current facility will be sold or leased.
"Ultimately, I wanted to create a facility where the most advanced care could be provided locally, without having to drive to St. Louis or U of I," Smith said. "We've got a great staff, we've got great doctors, but we're limited by what we can do with the facility we have."
Mayor Robert Butler praised Smith's work, calling it, "Another prime example of success here in Marion."
Work on the new facility has taken time. Though the project began "on paper" three years ago, a floor plan was completed last year.
"It's taking quite a bit of time," Smith joked. "Longer than I've expected."
Funding for the project is close to $5 million, Smith said, with much of that amount coming from funding sources like the Small Business Association.
"There are a lot of things that will make it unique," Smith said.
The expansive quarters, located on the south side of the highway, directly across from the current Pet Wellness Clinic, will feature in one wing about 45 suite boarding rooms for animals of different sizes; a full-service pet daycare; full-service grooming salon; and pet training classes.
While prices haven't been set for amenities like boarding, Smith said that prices will be judged on a competitive basis with other companies in the area, depending on the services a customer would like.
"We can offer other things than just to spend the night," Smith said.
The other wing will be dedicated to veterinary medicine, and will feature: service 24 hours a day, year-'round service, full-service ICU, full-service dentistry, service for infectious diseases, and care for small animals to dogs or cats. The medical wing of the facility will have 12 hours dedicated to appointments and 12 hours dedicated to emergencies.
In addition to medical and boarding facilities, Smith said that the office will also feature retail opportunities, similar to what they offer at their current facility.
In order to help staff the agency, Smith said that the Pet Wellness Center will recruit from colleges, vet programs, and from other veterinarians. At present, Smith's business has a staff of about 30, and he said that number could grow to 45 or even 60.
Smith said the plan is to provide a high level of care and good jobs.
"We don't want to replace any clinics; we're just going to continue from our practice and add more services and amenities that we don't see around here."
Most of the sitework for the grounds have been completed, and Smith says that administrative matters must be worked out, before construction can begin, though Smith is hopeful that construction will begin shortly.
A tentative date for the completion of the project is this fall.