Bio-defense in Kansas
Here are key questions and answers about the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility and Kansas' quest to secure it.
Q: What does a bio- and agro-defense facility do?
A: It is a Department of Homeland Security research operation whose mission is to combat contagious human and animal diseases and threats to the country's food supply, and to develop vaccines. It is supposed to house the most secure laboratory for handling infectious diseases. The facility will replace the animal disease center on Plum Island in New York.
Q: What benefits would a host community receive?
A: The facility promises at least 300 lab-related jobs, plus support staff. Construction over four to five years is expected to create 1,500 construction jobs.
The $451 million, 500,000-square-foot facility could generate additional jobs through research partnerships. During a 20-year period, it is estimated the facility would have a $3.5 billion impact on the Kansas economy, according to U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan.
Q: What is Kansas' competition for the facility?
A: Texas Research Park site in northwestern San Antonio; Madison County, Mississippi; the University of North Carolina in Granville; and the University of Georgia in Athens.
Q: States such as Georgia have committed millions of dollars to the project if it is selected. What has Kansas pledged?
A: The city of Manhattan has put $5 million on the table, which could be used for building infrastructure or for economic development. The state has agreed to purchase the roughly 60-acre piece of land selected for the facility and put in infrastructure, such as water and sewer lines and roads.
Q: What does Manhattan have in its favor?
A: It is home to Kansas State University and close to Fort Riley. K-State has the Biosecurity Research Institute, which officials said Homeland Security could begin using immediately.
Q: Who is paying for the project?
A: Congress provided money for the $47 million design and architecture, but no money has been appropriated for construction or operations yet.
Q: What happens next?
A: The next step in the site selection process will be an environmental impact study projected to be completed in fall 2008. Upon completion of the study, Homeland Security will choose the location. Construction is set to begin in 2010 with the facility operating by 2014.