A hub for protecting the country from disease outbreaks and bioterrorist attacks indeed will be built in Kansas.
The Department of Homeland Security said Monday that the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility would be built on the Kansas State University campus in Manhattan, confirming the department’s own preliminary decision reached last month.
The $450 million project — one expected to last four years and require 1,500 construction jobs — would replace an aging facility on Plum Island, N.Y.
Once completed, the new facility would be expected to employ 300 people, with an annual payroll of up to $30 million.
The project, as envisioned, would be used primarily to protect against animal diseases by conducting research on deadly pathogens, such as foot and mouth disease, Rift Valley fever and Hendra and Nipah viruses.
Construction could start next year.
“With this new lab, Kansas will cement its reputation as the nation’s leader in plant and animal health research and the biosciences,” said Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., in a statement released Monday evening. “We will reap the benefits of a cutting-edge industry while protecting the nation’s food supply and agricultural economy for years to come. Kansans can be very proud. This is a historic day.”
Kansas outlasted intense competition from other states, including finalists in Flora, Miss.; Athens, Ga.; Butner, N.C.; and San Antonio, Texas.
Kansas officials long touted the state’s strength in animal sciences, including an existing federal lab at K-State that could be used to address the nation’s needs during construction of the new lab. The state also has approved $105 million in bonds for the project.
“We can really be proud of our teamwork to prove that Kansas is the best home for this laboratory based on the merits,” Roberts said. “We had a unity of effort from the federal to the local level, across parties, with private partners and community leaders to bring this tremendous opportunity to the people of Kansas.”