A Lawrence company has received a lucrative contract to serve the Internet needs of the state's education and health care institutions.
Lawrence-based Kansas Research and Education Network has won a three-year, $3 million deal to provide network services to Topeka-based Kan-ed, a state-sponsored organization designed to promote distance learning and telemedicine.
The contract is expected to add 12 jobs to KanREN's staff of eight and will require the not-for-profit company to move out of its offices on Kansas University's campus to a new west Lawrence office building at 1405 Wakarusa Drive.
Scott Boyd, project manager for the company, said the new facility would open in June and hiring would begin in May. Boyd said pay ranges hadn't been set.
"These are jobs that you are going to have to have a little bit of technical knowledge for, so they should be better than the average job in Lawrence," Boyd said. "It is definitely an exciting time for us. It will provide us with a ton more work, and it should help Lawrence become better known as one of the leading technology cities in the state."
The facility will provide 24-hour technical support for both Kan-ed and KanREN network systems. KanREN, established in 1993, is a member-owned computer network that links universities, colleges, school districts and other organizations that need access to high-speed Internet and networks to conduct research and other educational projects.
Kan-ed is a state-funded network that links universities, libraries and hospitals that want to use the Internet and computer networks for distance learning and telemedicine. Kan-ed, which was established by the Legislature in 2001, is expected to launch its network this fall.
Once operational, Kan-ed will connect about 1,000 state organizations, said Eldon Rightmeier, director of technical operations and planning for Kan-ed.
Those organizations will range from high schools that want to allow their students to sit in on university classes to rural hospitals that will use the system to consult with doctors in other parts of the state.
"The Lawrence facility will be very important to us," Rightmeier said. "It will kind of be the nerve center of the entire statewide network."