Lieutenant governor tours Intervet in advance of biodefense lab tour
Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson was in De Soto Friday to tour the Intervet Inc. campus but his mind and that of his host was on an assignment they were to tackle this week.
Parkinson and Intervet vice president and area director of Intervet Americas Paul Casady are on the state team that is greeting a committee from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security charged with finding a site for a $450 million biodefense laboratory. Leavenworth and Manhattan are among the 18 sites being considered for the 500,000-square-foot lab that will conduct research into potential threats to animal, plant and human health.
His visit to De Soto resulted from an invitation from Casady to tour the campus, Parkinson said. But he said he and Casady would probably "strategize" some during the tour about the coming visit by federal officials.
Familiarity with companies like Intervet and facilities like its De Soto campus was important because they will play an important role in the state's pitch to the site-selection committee, Parkinson said.
"We've developed an impressive animal health corridor from Kansas City to Manhattan and Intervet has demonstrated a core competency in that area," he said. "That's encouraging for a variety of reasons, but the principle thing is they most want to make sure they place the facility where there is the core expertise and knowledge to provide the employees they will need.
"I liken it to an aircraft component manufacturer locating in Wichita. It makes sense because they're sure they will have enough employees with the expertise they need."
Landing the laboratory in the state would be good for Intervet, too, Casady said. As one of the world leaders in animal health products and the largest producer of animal vaccines, the company would benefit from the increased expertise and academic emphasis the laboratory would bring to the state and possibly from shared research, he said.
The federal officials visited the site near Fort Leavenworth Wednesday and moved on to Manhattan to tour a proposed site on the Kansas State University campus Thursday.
Parkinson said federal officials indicated they would wrap up the site tours in the next two to three weeks and make a decision in June.
"We'll know pretty soon if we make the first cut," he said. "I think we have assembled a good presentation for them in both communities."