County site touted for National Bio-Defense Facility
Leavenworth County is being touted as a potential site for a National Bio-Defense Facility.
Lynn McClure, president of the Leavenworth County Development Corp. (formerly Leavenworth Area Development), said the Kansas City Area Development Council and the Heartland Bio-Agri Consortium submitted the site near Fort Leavenworth as the only Kansas City metro site to be entered into the federal review process. The Leavenworth County site would compete against locations across the country, including another in-state site near Manhattan.
The National Bio-Defense Facility is a joint effort of the federal Homeland Security, Agriculture and Health and Human Services departments. It would employ in the neighborhood of 400 scientists in a 500,000-square-foot facility.
"This project packs a significant economic development opportunity for our county, not to mention the region," McClure said in an e-mail this week to members of the development council. "In addition to being a government funded and oriented program, its bioscience relationship brings with it a considerable amount of investment regarding items like site/facility, labor and transportation conduits."
The submitted site is at 155th Street and Coffin Road, immediately west of the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth.
McClure said the consortium chose the site due to its proximity to the current federal government location, remote nature of the site as it relates to the metropolitan area as a whole, and its proximity/access to Kansas City International Airport.
"In addition, such a site would also provide the facility connectivity to the technology 'backbone' available via the fort, which is necessary to properly manage such a facility," McClure said.
The process of selecting a site and building it will be a long one, McClure said. The federal government agencies are expected to pare the list of submitted sites in the next few months, then begin a new round of site evaluations. Selecting a site, McClure said, could take up to 18 months from now, with the actual construction and operation of the facility not completed for up to five years.
McClure said among the factors that could work in favor of the local submission was Kansas' bioscience initiative. "That's really something that helps to attract clientele like this," he said.
Another was the long local history of successful partnerships with the federal government. "We in Leavenworth County know how to work with government agencies," he said.
Leavenworth County Development Corp. has been involved with this project since early January, he said.