State Leaders: Kansas Undoubtedly Best Choice for Bio Lab

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MANHATTAN, Kan. - Senators Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback, Governor Kathleen Sebelius, Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson and other state leaders attended, along with the leaders of K-State and the Kansas Bioscience Authority, were among the crowd at a press conference to officially announce the Department of Homeland Security's recommendation of Kansas as the new site of the $451 million National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility.

NBAF will bring an estimated 500 new jobs to the little apple. No word yet on how many employees at the current facility on Plum Island in New York will be moving with it to Kansas.

Pending a 30-day window to hear questions and comments on the decision, the site next to Pat Roberts Hall on K-State's campus will become the new home of NBAF.

Senator Sam Brownback said Thursday it will make Kansas the "undisputed leader in animal health industry." This, he said, is where it will be done on a global basis.

Despite tough budget issues across the nation, leaders expect the $451 million project to get federal funding.

Governor Kathleen Sebelius (D-Kan.) says Kansas money has already been secured and that now federal funding has to be there for NBAF to be a continued effort.

Because Pat Roberts Hall is already home to the Biosecurity Research Institute, the government won't have to wait until NBAF is built to start research in Kansas.

"Why wait until 2015 when you can start today in this building?" said President of the Kansas Bioscience Authority, Tom Thornton.

There are some detractors to the project, some nearby residents, such as Tosha Bryant, fear the facility could bring a health risk to the area.

"I think they should put it somewhere else," said Bryant, a Flint Hills duplex resident. "We got a lot of children here. I just think if something goes wrong, we're the first ones affected by it."

Still, many remain confident this is a positive decision for KSU and the state of Kansas.

"This event will go down in our state's history as one of Kansas' finest hours," said Kansas State University President, Jon Wefald.

Governor Sebelius said 16 other states have agreed to partner with Kansas on this national security effort and that's one element the governor says helped put Kansas ahead of the other finalists in this decision to bring NBAF to Manhattan.