Archive for Friday, July 14, 2006

Olathe gives K-State land for campus

Research, education facilities envisioned on 90-acre site

July 14, 2006


Clay Blair, chairman of the Kansas Bioscience Authority, draws applause from Kansas State University President Jon Wefald, left, as Blair introduces bioscience authority officer Bill Sanford on Thursday during a ceremony at Olathe Northwest High School in Olathe. Officials detailed plans for a partnership that will give K-State 40 acres for research and academic operations on College Boulevard.

Clay Blair, chairman of the Kansas Bioscience Authority, draws applause from Kansas State University President Jon Wefald, left, as Blair introduces bioscience authority officer Bill Sanford on Thursday during a ceremony at Olathe Northwest High School in Olathe. Officials detailed plans for a partnership that will give K-State 40 acres for research and academic operations on College Boulevard.

— Kansas State University is preparing to expand into Johnson County, pouncing on a portion of prime development land being donated by the city of Olathe for use as a bioscience research park and educational center.

The overall project, announced Thursday, is being planned for 90 acres adjacent to the Olathe school district's activities center on College Boulevard, just east of Kansas Highway 7.

The land - with an estimated market value of $9 million - is being given by the city to establish a campus whose growth will be counted on for hundreds of jobs, millions of dollars in investment and the seemingly unlimited potential for economic development offered by teaming with a major research university.

"This is huge," Olathe Mayor Michael Copeland said. "If you look across America, there is no progressive, prosperous community without an outstanding educational system. And we have that here in Johnson County. But this is just a natural progression to the next level."

K-State's immediate plans call for building upon the university's growing reputation as a world leader in food safety and security, food systems and animal health. Jon Wefald, university president, envisions a $30 million research building to start, financed by individual donations, corporate contributions and grants and other funds from the federal government.

A handful of academic programs also could be available at the Olathe campus, perhaps offering master's degrees in forensic science, animal health, foods and nutrition, and strategic studies, Wefald said. K-State's share of the site is 40 acres, or the equivalent of Kansas University's Edwards Campus in Overland Park.

Room for two

K-State won't be competing with KU for students, grants or other resources, he said. Instead, the university will be angling to bolster its standing in a global marketplace that calls for experts focusing on what they do best, therefore securing benefits for Olathe, the state of Kansas and the entire United States.

"This is not a finite pie. It's an unlimited pie," Wefald said. "We want Kansas to be an intellectual powerhouse for the 21st century."

Earlier Thursday, the Kansas Bioscience Authority's board of directors approved spending $150,000 to plan for establishing laboratory space at two sites: the campus in Olathe, and at the KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan.

Clay Blair, chairman of the bioscience authority, envisions about 25,000 square feet of lab space being built in Olathe, likely using about $6 million from the authority and creating enough room for perhaps a dozen operations that would grow out of K-State research at the site.

The lab incubator then would allow the most promising technologies to mature to the point of securing venture capital, he said, thereby generating more jobs and investments for the community and the state.

The bioscience authority is poised to control 50 acres at the Olathe campus, with an intention to start with construction of the lab space and then expand into office and research space for other high-tech operations.

"The bioscience authority is not shy or timid," said Blair, who led the push to create the new partnerships in Olathe, 20 years after his family donated 40 acres of land for KU's Edwards Campus. "We step up and we're trying to make things happen. That's the mission we've been charged with."

Work ahead

The Olathe City Council plans to make the donation official within the next two months, Copeland said. A memorandum of understanding is being drafted for approval by the city, bioscience authority and K-State.

Wefald said he could envision K-State's portion of the campus taking shape within the next three to four years. He doesn't anticipate any extra money from the Kansas Legislature, and instead intends to seek financial support from some 40 animal-science and related companies that already are doing business in the Kansas City metro area.


President of Kansas State University Jon Wefald Enlarge video

The federal government - Congress, the Department of Homeland Security, the CIA, Department of Agriculture and others - also will be given the opportunity to invest in the campus, Wefald said. And so, too, will K-State's strong donor lineup of "heavy hitters," not to mention K-State's 20,000 alumni in Johnson County.

The anticipated benefits of the donated land and related developments left Wefald reaching for descriptions that would resonate with Wildcat faithful.


Kansas Authority Bioscience Chairman Clay Blair Enlarge video

"It's second only to winning the Fiesta Bowl," he said, drawing laughs from about 50 people attending the announcement at Olathe Northwest High School. "No, no - it's second only to winning the Big 12 championship over the University of Oklahoma."

More laughs.

"You know, I think it's right there," he said, before continuing with a rundown of his hopes, plans and dreams for the site that soon will be anchored with purple pride.

Later, the pending donation still was sinking in.

"It's almost unheard of - maybe it's unprecedented - for a city to say, 'Here is $9 million worth of our most prime real estate. Now see what you can do with it,'" Wefald said. "It's a dream come true."


lunacydetector 11 years ago

it's nice to see at least some other communities are interested in creating JOBS, even if they'll be government sector type JOBS, at least they will be JOBS.

meanwhile back in lawrence, city leaders are more interested in keeping lawrence the most restrictive community in the state of kansas and the midwest. it's a nice little island.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years ago

Come up with a concrete proposal that would create JOBS, luny, and present it to the city and county commissions. I'm sure they'd be happy to hear your unique insights.

Jayhawk226 11 years ago

"We want Kansas to be an intellectual powerhouse for the 21st century."

Definitely some work to be done there...

...speaking of, one more day to guarantee voter registration for the August 1st primaries.

lunacydetector 11 years ago

i have some real ideas about creating jobs bozo - just proven common sense ideas that i wouldn't consider "unique" - as you put it.

if you used common sense, what would you do to create jobs? it ain't too hard to come up with concrete ideas. it ain't rocket science. just keep in mind that lawrence is the most restrictive community in kansas and the midwest, so expect to be scoffed at using a common sense approach. promoting our quality of life ain't good enough. it has gotten us nowhere.

....just how many jobs have been created in the past 4-5 years bozo? 1000, 2000, 10,000, or 0? my bet says something closer to ZERO. obviously, the living wage ordinance hasn't created any new jobs. a living wage or ZERO wage? but, i'm sure there were good intentions by some to push this through, and i'm sure there were bad intentions by some to push this through - you know the 'no growth' mentality.

why do so many people commute? to make money. it all boils down to money.

Godot 11 years ago

Olathe government spends taxpayer money to set aside land that is used to create "businesses" that depend on taxpayer dollars for their existence, and that create more government jobs. Now THAT is what I call economic development.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years ago

It sure took you a lot of words to demonstrate that you don't have any ideas, luny.

cutny 11 years ago

Well, I certainly think Pat Robertson and Sam Brownback have done quite a bit to distinguish Kansas as an "intellectual powerhouse of the 21st Century." Perhaps not being thought of as a complete joke by the rest of the country would be a more attainable goal.

ksmoderate 11 years ago

Well said, cutny!

Right now, Kansas is more like an intellectual powerhouse of the 18th Century.

Ken Miller 11 years ago

The success of this K-State "project" is going to rest very heavily on how well the Stowers folks do in making this area a known, true breeding ground for Bioscience efforts and their offshoots.

I also wonder if the K-10 Corridor group can/will use this news to re-fire their efforts to bring more high-tech companies to K-10.

DaREEKKU 11 years ago

Science is the work of Satan, we must thwart this project in the name of the Lawd!

Richard Heckler 11 years ago

Why not donate land to develope a high tech high end Vocational Technical Institute, perhaps a junior college or combine the two? Obviously Johnson county recognizes the value in the research and educational industry. Remember this is the public school district that saw fit to support a sales tax rather than wait around for Topeka.

Any community that displays enough forward thinking and continues to expand and invest in research and educational institutions will probaly attract the high paying jobs. This city/county has chosen to avoid serious discussion on this matter.

Johnson County Community College seems to have no problem attracting more revenue as they have embarked on campus expansion.

lunacydetector 11 years ago

Godot, right you are indeed. not enough coffee in my morning plus i've been hanging around too many democrats lately.

bozo, you'd be the last person to know what my ideas REALLY are, because it would only give you and your cohorts time to mount a blitz of misinformation to discredit anything positive for this community when it pertains to growth and job creation.....and bozo, how many new jobs have been created since you and your posse took power? is ZERO a fair number?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years ago

If Lawrence would secede from the US and declare all environmental and labor laws null and void and charge no taxes of any kind on businesses, we'd have phenomenonal job growth, luny.

Of course, you could forget about little amenities like paved roads, schools, police and fire protection, etc and so on, but that does seem to be what you are proposing, luny.

If I'm wrong, please clarify what your JOBS program really is.

drewdun 11 years ago

"No, no - it's second only to winning the Big 12 championship over the University of Oklahoma."

You can tell how sad of an institution KSU is by this quote from their school president.

I think a more appropriate quote would be "Hopefully it will be better than consecutive last place finishes in one of the weakest divisions in college football." Or "Perhaps this will take away the pain of having lost 33 of 34 to KU." Or "Now we won't have to play second fiddle to those uppity elitists in Lawrence. We'll have the bestest cow college on the face of the Earth!"

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