Archive for Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Eco devo official predicts ‘exciting times’

December 13, 2006

The new president of Leavenworth County Development Corp. says he thinks the county is on the brink of something big.

Tony Kramer won unanimous election to the post during the economic development group's annual meeting last Friday at University of St. Mary in Leavenworth The event marked LCDC's 25th year.

"We're on the verge of some very exciting times in Leavenworth County," said Kramer, a partner in DeMaranville & Kramer, a certified public accounting firm in Leavenworth.

Kramer said he based his prediction on several factors, including spillover from the Legends entertainment district near the Kansas Speedway in western Wyandotte County, the availability of land, and a new spirit of cooperation among elected officials in the county.

"I think there's the prospect for a lot of economic development, especially in the southern end of the county," Kramer said.

He said he was speaking during the annual meeting's lunch with Bill Petrie, the organization's outgoing president, and guest speaker William Duncan, chief executive officer of the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute, about the county's potential. Duncan, Kramer said, "drew a circle around Kansas City, and most of the available green space is in Leavenworth County." Planned construction of a new interchange on the Kansas Turnpike south of Tonganoxie, he said, could potentially open even more land that would be enticing to prospective businesses.

Kramer said his two most recent predecessors leading Leavenworth County Development Corp. -- Petrie and Chris Donnelly -- and former executive director Lynn McClure had made it their priority to get the county's cities to begin pulling together on economic development measures. Their efforts, he said, are beginning to bear fruit.

"People are starting to realize that what's good for Basehor, Tonganoxie, Leavenworth and Lansing is good for all of us," he said.

Duncan, the guest speaker, talked about the impact of the life sciences industry on the area. The mission of his group, the Kansas City Area Life Science Initiative, is to transform the Kansas City region into a nationally recognized center of excellence in life sciences research, development and commercialization.

"Why is the life sciences industry important to Kansas?" he asked. "It's making an estimated $12 billion contribution annually to the Kansas economy."

The industry directly accounts for 103,000 jobs in the state and nearly 7 percent of the Kansas work force, he said.

Leavenworth County continues to await word on what could make it a big player in the area's life sciences effort. Federal officials are expected to announce this month whether the county remains in the running for the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility, a joint effort of the U.S. Homeland Security, Agriculture and Health and Human Services departments.

The facility would employ about 250 scientists in a 500,000-square-foot, $451 million facility that includes a Biosafety Level 4 laboratory -- the highest level of biosafety. It would be charged with helping protect the nation's agricultural and public health. The bid is for a site at 155th Street and Coffin Road, west of the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth.

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