AYER -- Nashoba Valley Medical Center has made a significant economic impact on Ayer, according to a new report.
Consultants from the independent Health Business Group found that the hospital paid $700,000 in property taxes during 2011 and 2012. In both years, the medical center was the third largest property taxpayer in Ayer.
The report analyzed all Massachusetts hospitals owned by the Steward Health Care System, which bought NVMC in 2011.
David Williams, president of Health Business Group, said Steward's investment in the hospital has given it access to more resources.
"If you look at where Steward has invested -- and this is the case for Nashoba Valley -- they tend to invest in areas that actually have above-average unemployment and have received less investment overall from other players in the health care system," he said.
Having a vibrant hospital in a small community definitely increases the quality of life, Williams said.
"It may be a small hospital relative to some of the other hospitals around the state, but it makes a pretty big difference to have those services available to the local community," he said.
According to the report, during those two years, the NVMC contributed $3.6 million in community benefits such as free educational programs even though the for-profit hospital is not required to provide them. Steward also pays NVMC employees a living wage of $11.50 per hour, as opposed to the state's minimum wage of $8.
With a property value of about $15 million, NVMC's property taxes amount to about $433,635 dollars for fiscal 2014, according to the assessor's office.
Town Administrator Robert Pontbriand said the town has an excellent relationship with the hospital.
"The hospital is definitely a cornerstone of the town of Ayer, and always has been through the years," Pontbriand said.
The hospital has supported the Fire Department, Council on Aging and Senior Center either through equipment, grants or donations, Pontbriand said. NVMC also holds an annual community health fair.
"It's been a huge positive asset to the town of Ayer and to the whole Nashoba Valley region," he said. "There haven't been any negatives."
Follow Amelia on Twitter and Tout @AmeliaPakHarvey.