It's great news that Manhattan is among the five finalists for the new $451 million National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility.
Other finalist locations listed by the Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday were in Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas. The final selection is expected to occur by October 2008 after additional environmental impact studies. Officials estimate that the new federal facility will generate 1,500 construction jobs, up to 500 scientific jobs and an economic impact of $3.5 billion over 20 years. It would be a boon to Manhattan and the rest of the state.
Leavenworth also was among the 17 sites considered for the facility. Both Leavenworth and Manhattan had strong attributes, but it was unlikely both would advance in the selection process. Kansas is fortunate to be able to claim one finalist.
Manhattan and Kansas State University present a strong package for a facility whose mission is to deal with animal health and public health issues. As Sen. Pat Roberts pointed out Wednesday, the new federal facility actually could be built in conjunction with the Bioscience Research Institute, which is expected to be completed at KSU by the end of the year. That gives Manhattan an edge, according to one KSU official, because it could cut the time needed to construct the new federal facility and get it in operation.
KSU has a wonderful reputation for animal and life sciences research that should make a strong impression with federal evaluators. It's now up to Kansas to mount a united effort to showcase the opportunities available in Manhattan and convince federal officials that Kansas has the best site for the new Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility.