Kansas leaders celebrate biosecurity lab recommendation
Manhattan State leaders on Thursday said the proposed federal biosecurity lab would make Kansas the worldwide center of animal research and serve the nation as a high-level defense against terrorism.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has recommended building the $450 million National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility on the Kansas State University campus.
Although the decision is not yet final, a Who’s Who of Kansas government took a figurative victory lap during a news conference at K-State’s Biosecurity Research Institute.
U.S. Sen Pat Roberts, R-Kan., who led the effort to land NBAF, said the facility would be one of the top federal labs used “to protect our nation and our economy.”
Kansas State University President Jon Wefald called the DHS recommendation “a transformational event.”
Wefald added: “This event will go down in history as one of Kansas’ finest hours, period, amen and good night.”
U.S. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., said the lab would make Kansas “the undisputed leader in the animal health industry. This is where animal health research is going to be done on a global basis.”
Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson said, “With this decision, it cements the corridor between Kansas City, Lawrence and Manhattan as the Silicon Valley” of animal research.
The decision by DHS follows years of intense competition among several states.
Numerous officials said Kansas won on the merits of its proposal, which included $105 million in assistance to develop the facility, and bipartisan teamwork.
“The secret sauce is the unity,” said Tom Thornton, president and chief executive officer of the Kansas Bioscience Authority.
Roberts and others said they believed the project would get the necessary funding from Congress and the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama because it’s a critical component of national defense.
“This is a national security priority,” Gov. Kathleen Sebelius said.
Also on hand at the news conference were U.S. Reps. Todd Tiahrt and Jerry Moran, and U.S. Rep.-elect Lynn Jenkins.
Numerous state legislators, including Senate President Steve Morris, House Speaker Melvin Neufeld and Reps. Lee Tafanelli and Kenny Wilk were also there.