Tuesday is a very important day for Manhattan, for Kansas, for the
Midwest. The Department of Homeland Security will be in town conducting
a study about the proposed National Bio- and Agro-defense Facility
(NBAF) site on the K-State campus. The selection of Manhattan by the
Department of Homeland Security as one of the finalists for NBAF is the
culmination of a great deal of hard work. This is a very big deal --
creating 1,500 jobs and an economic impact of $3.5 billion over the
next 20 years.
Given our strong investment in animal health research and education, as
well as our longstanding agricultural heritage, Kansas is the ideal
location for this important federal facility. In addition, Kansas
already has the right kind of scientific assets in place, including the
Biosecurity Research Institute, the National Agricultural Biosecurity
Center and the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor with more than 120
animal health companies employing more than 13,000 animal health
These assets can be applied immediately to support the research at NBAF.
Manhattan offers the perfect location. Kansas State University has nationally recognized expertise in agriculture, zoonotic emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, and livestock medicine. Long before 9/11, this community made a commitment to agricultural biosecurity, recognizing the global significance of this important work. This investment has paid off, and K-State and Manhattan are now on a national stage as a result.
We are looking forward to the Environmental Impact Study process, which will hopefully result in Manhattan being named the new home for NBAF. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius signed an executive order establishing a special task force to help Kansas secure the bid for this extraordinary opportunity. The task force is comprised of leading scientists and civic, academic, agricultural and industry leaders. The Kansas Legislature passed legislation to pull together all local, county and state regulators to expedite the process.
Now it is our job to showcase why the strong research, education and animal health assets throughout the entire region make Manhattan such a great fit for this facility.
There will be some who say this facility shouldn't be built -- here or anywhere. Rigorous debate is part of the process, so we shouldn't be alarmed. One of the things I appreciate about this community is its inherently inquisitive nature. During my time at K-State, I often enjoyed observing, and sometimes participating in, rich, vibrant debates on a full range of subjects. This is a town full of people who embrace research, exchange ideas and usually reach reasonable conclusions.
So, let's step up and be open to this enormous opportunity. NBAF represents reaching the next level, elevating us to a position as the national leader in agricultural biosecurity. We can win this thing if we stick together and focus on our merits.
Angela Kreps is a KSU graduate. She now lives in Overland Park and is president of KansasBio and is a member of the board of directors of the Kansas Bioscience Authority.
Published in the August 26, 2007 edition of the Manhattan Mercury.