The Kansas lawmakers who spearheaded the legislation that created the Kansas Bioscience Authority should be looking with some satisfaction at how their dream is developing.
Former Rep. Kenny Wilk, R-Lansing, and former Sen. Nick Jordan, R-Shawnee, both have left the Legislature, but the KBA appears on its way to providing a lasting benefit for the state.
In the five years since the Economic Growth Act was passed, the state has invested $33 million in bioscience efforts in the state. As reported in Monday’s Journal-World, that expenditure has generated 1,164 jobs, $110 million in capital improvements, $44 million in research and an equity investment of $29 million.
Not bad, especially when you factor in the challenges of the recent economic downturn.
What the KBA legislation did was to prepare Kansas to take advantage of emerging opportunities in the biosciences field. That put Kansas a step ahead of other states when it came to projects like the $650 million National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility that is expected to generate 1,500 construction jobs and employ 300 people in Manhattan.
Although NBAF is the current crown jewel in the KBA crown, the authority also is working hard on attracting a National Cancer Center designation for the Kansas University Medical Center and has supported more than 30 other bioscience ventures across the state.
Many of those enterprises are located along the Interstate 70 corridor between Manhattan and the Kansas City area, but KBA money also is supporting enterprises in Wichita, Garden City and other locations across the state. Each one of those ventures already is providing economic benefit for the state and serves as a foothold to attract related bioscience efforts.
All of this activity attracted the attention of Business Facilities magazine, which last summer ranked Kansas among the top 10 states for biotechnology strength. Such recognition has helped put Kansas on the map in the highly competitive bioscience field.
KBA support has given many promising ventures an opportunity to advance their work. The fact that they’ve been doing that even in the current difficult economic climate puts the state in a strong position to take advantage of more opportunities as the economy recovers. That’s a good investment in the future.
The state’s success in the bioscience field is far from guaranteed, but the foresight of some key state legislators has certainly given Kansas a seat at the table.