Archive for Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Local bioscience group working to set organizational structure

December 14, 2005

A group that hopes to attract bioscience companies to Tonganoxie is taking a step toward more formal organization.

Last week, the group appointed a loosely structured committee.

"What I foresee happening is this group will come back with a suggested structure, and we, as a group, will vote on it," said Bill New, chairman of the board of First State Bank and Trust, who along with several other key people have spearheaded the efforts to establish the group.

"We'll have a democratic election on who you want to be involved in the organization."

For nearly a year, a group of Tonganoxie area residents and business people has met, in an effort to educate themselves about what the emerging bioscience industry could mean for the city. And now, it's time to get organized, New said.

And while it was inevitable that the group become more organized -- by electing officers, establishing committees -- the need for more organization was underscored recently when a Kansas City area company was looking to move. The biosciences company wanted a quick answer about what Tonganoxie had to offer.

But one component was missing, he said

"There was no entity to put it together," Donnelly said.

So several officials at First State Bank, along with city officials and Leavenworth Area Development officials, went to work. Others at the state level became involved, and within two to three weeks, a proposal had been presented to the pharmaceutical testing company, according to Chris Donnelly, executive vice president at the bank.

"There was a lot of behind-the-scenes work going on," Donnelly said.

Ultimately, the company was forced by its parent company to move to North Carolina, Donnelly said.

But that experience convinced him and others that it was time to take the next step with the local bioscience group.

"In my eight or nine years of doing work with Leavenworth Area Development, if you don't have a lead entity that can move quickly, you're going to lose out on these projects as they come in," Donnelly said. ''... It just can't be one or two of us. It has to be a broader-based set of people to make those decisions rapidly and include the right players in the game."

The committee will report back sometime after the first of the year with its proposal.

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