Topeka The head of a state-funded business accelerator on Monday said Kansas will soon be recognized worldwide as a place to bring bioscience businesses.
"Our mission is for Kansas to become a global destination for bioscience. That is closer to a reality today than many realize," said Duane Cantrell, chief executive officer of the Kansas Bioscience Authority.
He said Kansas is one of only a few states that has a solid base in three major bioscience areas: human health, animal health and agriculture.
Cantrell urged members of the House Appropriations Committee to fully fund the KBA over the next three years: a total of $105 million.
Created in 2004, the KBA in recent years has been plagued with turnover and questions about its operations.
Cantrell was hired 15 months ago as CEO and said he has changed the mission of the KBA, placing more emphasis on getting returns from investments.
Cantrell said the agency has taken back $57 million in commitments to organization that have not met their development goals.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Marc Rhoades, R-Newton, and several other legislators said they were impressed with the direction in which Cantrell was taking the KBA.
State Rep. Mark Kahrs, R-Wichita, asked Cantrell how many bioscience jobs in Kansas had been created in the past 10 years.
Cantrell said he didn't know, adding that he has been unable to get the number of jobs in the base year of 2003.
Kahrs said, "You inherited a disaster," adding that creation of the KBA was "a bad idea in my opinion."
State Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, said she disagreed with Kahrs. She said she believed that in past years the KBA was torn in a lot of different directions.