Opinion Columns & Blogs

John W. Carlin: Bioscience Authority crucial to state's future

The Kansas Legislature demonstrated tremendous foresight when it passed the 2004 Kansas Economic Growth Act, which created the Kansas Bioscience Authority and gave us the resources and tools to position our state as a national bioscience leader.

Effectively, the authority's goal is to create a fourth leg to our state's economy: to position the biosciences as a peer to our state's heritage in energy, agriculture and manufacturing. And we do that by making highly focused, game-changing investments that create high-paying jobs and expand our state's research base.

Simply put, after just a few years, we are realizing the bold vision that the Kansas Legislature established when the authority was created. The question, though, is no longer: Can this work? The question has become: Just how big will this get?

We have asserted ourselves as a national leader in key bioscience clusters such as animal health, drug discovery and bioenergy. Kansas entrepreneurs are developing cutting-edge products to fight cancer and address other health care challenges. Foreign companies and some of the nation's most distinguished researchers are moving to Kansas. Investors nationally are betting on Kansas companies.

And, of course, the authority's dogged determination led to Kansas winning the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility. Starting with the construction of the $650 million facility and continuing with the ongoing employment of a highly educated work force, the NBAF's economic impact on Kansas will be significant, estimated at up to $3.6 billion over the next 20 years.

But beyond the NBAF, authority investments have created 1,195 new jobs, $79.5 million in new wages, $212.6 million in new capital investment, $86.6 million in new research funding, and $48.3 million in new equity investments.

That's impact. And something every Kansan can be proud of.

We need to work together to achieve great successes, and will continue our work in an open, transparent and effective manner. We look forward to our ongoing dialogue with legislators to ensure we are making investments that create much-needed growth in our great state of Kansas.

Bottom line: The authority's return on investment is more than 9-to-1. I'll take those returns any day and be comfortable knowing that the organization is fulfilling its obligations to Kansas taxpayers.

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