A proposal led by the University of Georgia has been included in the short list of candidates for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security named Georgia to a list of 18 candidates last year and last week narrowed the field to five states, including Georgia.
“Georgia will continue working hard to convince federal officials that we have the right combination of resources, infrastructure and talent to bring this research center to our state,” said Gov. Sonny Perdue. “This center will not only generate jobs and economic activity, it also will cement the state’s leadership position in the life sciences and agriculture industries.”
According to DHS, the NBAF would address the federal government’s need for research and development space to meet threats from emerging disease pandemics and bio- and agro-terrorism. The Athens site selected is UGA-owned property on South Milledge Ave. near Whitehall Road, on the southern end of campus, used as an extended animal farm for the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences.
“This is exciting news for the university and the state,” said President Michael F. Adams. “We recognize that this is another step in a long process, but Georgia’s case is very strong, with access to UGA faculty with appropriate expertise and to research facilities such as the Animal Health Research Center and the Coverdell Center. We look forward to continuing our strong working partnership with the governor’s office and DHS with the promise of more good news to come.”
The facility, which would be housed in a 500,000-square-foot building, would create an estimated 1,000 construction jobs over three years, and will provide an estimated 250 to 350 high-quality jobs.
A Carl Vinson Institute of Government analysis estimates the NBAF’s 20-year impact at $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion in wages/salaries, and an estimated $3.5 billion to $6 billion in overall economic impact.
“The inclusion of this site as a finalist for NBAF clearly recognizes the exceptional fit between the Georgia Consortium and the NBAF mission,” said David Lee, vice president for research and leader of the effort to bring NBAF to Georgia. “We have the critical research capabilities and a strong scientific and technical workforce.”
In the next phase of the selection process, DHS will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for each of the communities offering sites. The public will be able to provide comment on these facilities, in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act. DHS will select the final site in October 2008.
The state of Georgia created the Georgia Consortium for Health and Agro-Security to respond to a DHS request for proposals in January 2006. The consortium consists of representatives from UGA, the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Innovation and Technology Office, Emory University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, the Medical College of Georgia and other Georgia institutions of higher education, the Georgia Research Alliance, the Georgia Department of Agriculture and other key agriculture and industry stakeholders and businesses.
The other states named as finalists by DHS are Kansas, North Carolina, Texas and Mississippi.