Gov. Kathleen Sebelius unveiled her team Friday.
State leaders hope the more than 40-person blitz will grab attention in Washington and give the state an edge in landing the planned $451 million National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility.
"The public-private partnership we are launching today is a crucial step to winning the facility," Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson said.
The federal government is seeking information in 11 states at 18 sites, including Leavenworth and Manhattan. The list could be narrowed anytime, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Parkinson and Dan Glickman, former U.S. Agriculture Secretary and longtime Kansas congressman, will be co-chairmen of the governor's task force. U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, who has been involved in state bioscience efforts, will be honorary co-chairman.
In recent weeks, state and bioscience leaders have expressed optimism at landing the research lab where 250 scientists will work in a 500,000-square-foot facility on protection from diseases that infect animals and humans.
Kansas Bioscience Authority President and CEO Tom Thornton said forming the task force was a powerful and credible expression of the state's commitment to the facility in the face of fierce competition. The bioscience authority plans to spend $250,000 and may seek more from the Legislature.
In a statement, Parkinson said landing the federal lab would improve the state's economy and secure Kansas' place as an international leader in bioscience research. The project is expected to inject $3.5 billion into the economy over 20 years, and construction is expected to take 1,000 workers, according to Sebelius' office.
Sebelius also named Kansas University Chancellor Robert Hemenway and Kansas State University President Jon Wefald to the task force with other leaders of research institutions.
Hemenway said the entire state and KU would benefit if Kansas wins the facility. He also expected the task force to begin organizing a proposal for the federal government.
"Kansans have demonstrated that the Kansas work ethic and the Kansas ability to dream large dreams can pay off," Hemenway said.
Don Marvin, president and CEO of Identigen Ltd., an Ireland-based biosciences company with its North American operations now based in Lawrence, is a task force member. Marvin could not be reached for comment Friday.
Members of the Kansas Congressional delegation will be ex-officio members. The task force also includes leaders from Manhattan and Leavenworth, elected and appointed state officials, and representatives from agricultural and economic organizations. State legislative and commerce leaders will also appoint more members.
- Lansing Current Editor John Taylor contributed to this report.