A $100 million medical plant expansion to land just on the other side of the Douglas County line

A community just on the other side of the Douglas County line has landed a $100 million high-tech industrial project.

Merck Animal Health announced Monday morning that it is has approved a $100 million expansion plan for its facility along Kansas Highway 10 in De Soto.

The press release didn’t provide details on how many new jobs the expansion may provide for the area, but I’ll do some checking on that front.

De Soto, in case you don’t know, is a town of about 6,500 people just 7 miles east of the Douglas County line. The plant, which looks like a mix of a manufacturing facility and a farm, is located just on the north side of K-10, near the De Soto High School.

The facility makes a variety of vaccines for the beef, swine and equine markets, and Monday’s release from Merck said the project first would focus on an expansion of the vaccine production facility, which is expected to come online this year.

Another $66 million worth of expansions to various parts of the facility will be completed in the “coming years,” the company said in the release.

In addition to vaccines, the De Soto plant makes products that help livestock grow and add weight, and it also develops and manufactures a variety of antibodies for dogs, cats and other companion animals.

Again, it will be interesting to see how many jobs the project creates for the area, but economic development leaders will be pleased with the announcement even if it doesn’t produce a huge boost in employment. The corridor between Manhattan and Columbia, Mo., is working to tout itself as the most active animal health corridor in the world.

Kansas State, with its veterinary school and the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, which is scheduled to open in late 2022, anchors one end of the corridor. The University of Missouri anchors the other end.

Economic development leaders now estimate the corridor is home to more than 300 animal health companies — everything from places like Merck to the Kibbles ‘n Bits dog food plant in Lawrence. That’s the largest concentration of animal health companies in the world, according to the KC Animal Health Corridor organization.

It will be worth watching how KU fits into the animal health corridor in the future. KU does a lot of drug research, and it most often is associated with human health. But occasionally the discoveries that KU researchers make also have applications in the animal health world.


Welcome to the new LJWorld.com. Our old commenting system has been replaced with Facebook Comments. There is no longer a separate username and password login step. If you are already signed into Facebook within your browser, you will be able to comment. If you do not have a Facebook account and do not wish to create one, you will not be able to comment on stories.