ATLANTA – Governor Sonny Perdue, U.S. Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, and Georgia’s congressional delegation announced today that Georgia has been included in the short list of candidates for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF). The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which named Georgia to a select list of 18 candidates in August 2006, today 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 Governor Sonny Perdue. “This center will not only generate jobs and economic activity, it will also 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 University of Georgia-owned property on South Milledge Avenue near Whitehall Road, on the southern end of campus used as an extended animal farm for the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. The site is only minutes from the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine and its Animal Health Research Center, USDA facilities, Merial Ltd., and Athens Technical College, as well as the Athens bypass and connecting highway network.
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, immediately upon opening, 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.
“We have been working very hard to keep the Athens site at the top of the heap, and I am extremely pleased with today’s announcement,” said U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss. “We are proud of the fact that Georgia is a research hub, and the location of this proposed facility would further enhance the already outstanding reputation and stature of our state as a place for medical, bio and agricultural research.”
“With the CDC, USDA facilities, our top-ranked health institutions and our research universities, Georgia is the ideal location for the new National Bio and Agro-Defense facility,” said U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson. “This is great news for Georgia and reflects the hard work and preparation of everyone involved. We are committed to continuing the hard work to bring this facility to our state.”
Georgia has become a world leader in global health, especially in the areas of zoonotic infectious diseases, vaccines and food safety. A decision by DHS to locate the NBAF in Athens near UGA would enhance the facility’s operations and impact due its proximity to existing federal research facilities such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the USDA Russell Research Center, as well as Athens and Atlanta research partners Merial, Emory University, Georgia Tech and Georgia State University.
“The inclusion of this site as a finalist for NBAF clearly recognizes the exceptional fit between the Georgia Consortium and the NBAF mission,” said University of Georgia Vice President for Research David Lee. “We have the critical research capabilities and a strong scientific and technical workforce. We’re offering an outstanding site in a highly desirable and affordable community, we have experience building this type of facility, and we have very competitive building costs. Additionally, our community, state and agricultural leaders are very supportive of research to protect animal and human health.”
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 (NEPA). DHS will select the final site in October 2008.
To respond to DHS’s January 2006 request for proposals, the state of Georgia created the Georgia Consortium for Health and Agro-Security. The consortium consists of representatives from the University of Georgia, 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. More information and continued updates on Georgia’s proposal for the NBAF facility is available at www.uga.edu/nbaf.