Archive for Friday, October 21, 2005

Bioscience could have a place in city’s future

October 21, 2005

Tonganoxie could become a logical place for bioscience-related businesses to locate, says a state representative from Leavenworth County.

"The chances of getting a major industry to come to Tonganoxie with 1,000 jobs is fairly remote," Rep. Kenny Wilk, R-Lansing, told about 30 Tonganoxie-area residents gathered at a Tonganoxie Bioscience Initiative meeting Friday at VFW hall.

"But there's going to be a lot of peripheral businesses that spin out of those major industries," said Wilk, who was a key player in the establishment of the Kansas Bioscience Authority.

The bioscience industry focuses on human health, plants and animals, Wilk said.

"I think that the opportunity not just for the Kansas City area, but even for us here is in the animal health side of the equation," Wilk said.

The Tonganoxie area's rural landscape would help make that possible, Wilk said.

"One of these things we have out here is we have space if you need an operation where you had to have animals on site to do experimentation on," Wilk said.

Wilk said area research institutions, including the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City, Mo., Kansas State University and the University of Kansas, would be a boon to attracting bioscience industries.

And it's important for the community to educate its members about what biosciences are and to look at how branches of the industry can be drawn to the Tonganoxie area, Wilk said.

"A community has got to have a plan," Wilk said. "It doesn't need to be a perfect plan, but you've got to have a plan -- a bad plan is better than no plan at all."

Wilk said that Kansas has had three economic pillars -- gas and oil, aviation and agriculture.

"All three of those major segments have been in decline," Wilk said. "... So what are we going to do -- are we going to just sit back and hope something good happens or are we going to try and figure out what the area's next major industry ought to be?"

Wilk said that according to economists, in the next 15 years, bioscience will make up 15 to 17 percent of the gross domestic product in the United States.

"That's about the size of the health-care industry in America today," Wilk said. "It's going to be big, big."

Chris Donnelly, a participant in the Tonganoxie Bioscience Initiative, said area residents are encouraged to attend the bioscience meetings. For more information, contact Donnelly at First State Bank and Trust, (913) 845-5166.

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