Kansas City, Mo — Kansas City business leaders hope that $31 million in state money pledged by Gov. Bob Holden will boost a planned life science building into the top ranks of national bioresearch centers.
The new center would be built on Hospital Hill, just south of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. It would house the university's Schools of Pharmacy and Nursing and cutting-edge laboratory and research facilities, university officials said.
Holden said Wednesday that he would release $1.7 million immediately, which will allow the university to begin seeking an architect to design the project.
Despite tough economic times, the "project is needed to make the University of Missouri system a major player in the life sciences," Holden said. "This will set the stage for us to be a leader of the economy of the future."
The new building originally was authorized two years ago to house UMKC's pharmacy and nursing programs.
The legislature approved $30.5 million during fiscal year 2001, but the money has been withheld each of the last two years to help balance the state budget as tax revenue fell far below expectations.
Holden announced his release of the planning money and his commitment for funding the entire project at a gathering of university officials, civic leaders and representatives of several private research foundations.
Martha Gilliland, chancellor of the UMKC campus, said the new project would have a broader life sciences focus and more emphasis on research space than the original plan. It will make Hospital Hill a major life sciences center training physicians, dentists, nurses and pharmacists, Gilliland said.
Gilliland said the state funding will be supplemented by $8 million from private donors, including the Hall Family Foundation; the Sunderland Foundation; Express Scripts, a pharmacy benefits management company based in St. Louis; and Butler Manufacturing Co. of Kansas City.
Holden also announced his support for a Kansas City Technology Center, a separate project that would build on the region's growing research capability to turn theoretical concepts into marketable products. He called on Kansas City's business community to work with the state to make such a center possible.