MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) -- The Kansas Department of Agriculture is relocating to Manhattan and setting up shop on Kansas State University’s campus.
Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Dale Rodman made the announcement Thursday. The city of Manhattan and Kansas State University also put out information on the agency's move which will occur no later than June 30, 2014.
"It’s the best thing that’s happened to Manhattan in many years," said Manhattan Mayor Loren Pepperd.
Pepperd says Governor Sam Brownback and the Kansas Senate recently approved the move, making the Little Apple a hub of agricultural services and research.
"We felt that the Kansas Department of Agriculture should be centered next to our land grant school and next to our Agriculture Department at K-State. As you know, K-State has one of the largest agricultural departments in the nation for grain science and for livestock swine and beef industry," he added.
A new three story, 50,000 square foot facility will be built at K-State’s Research Park off of North Manhattan Avenue directly east of where the National Bio and Agro Defense Facility (NBAF) labs will be constructed. Work on NBAF's central utility plant is expected to start in the next few weeks.
Development of the new Department of Agriculture building will be undertaken by the Kansas State University Foundation and it will be leased to the department for a 20-year period.
The location is also adjacent to the Kansas State University Institute of Commercialization and close proximity is also provided to the College of Agriculture, Kansas State Research and Extension, the College of Veterinary Medicine, the university's international grain science complex and U.S. Department of Agriculture facilities.
Officials say having all of the entities working so closely together is ideal and more cost efficient.
Jeff Morris, Director of K-State Communications and Marketing told WIBW: "What is means for us is we achieve critical mass. It’s going to be a big boost to our research park. Most importantly for the state of Kansas, it means that we’ll have people that work together that are in the same industry. Agriculture is our largest industry and we think a lot of synergy is going to come out of this move. It’s really part of our northeast corridor where we’re bringing a lot of research assets to base so it makes a lot of sense for the Department of Agriculture to be there from our standpoint."
The KDA will maintain its main administrative office in Topeka and current field offices in Stafford, Stockton, Parsons and Garden City but the new building in Manhattan will house up to 200 employees and most of the agency’s programs.