Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communication Office
Governor Ernie Fletcher Makes the Case for Proposed Federal Research Lab
Facility could change the economic landscape of southeastern Kentucky
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Ernie Fletcher along with Congressman Hal Rogers (R-Somerset), state cabinet secretaries, officials from the universities of Kentucky, Louisville and Tennessee and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, made their case today for the commonwealth to become the home of the new National Bio and Agro-defense Facility (NBAF). The Kentucky/Tennessee NBAF Consortium Expression of Interest was submitted to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security last Friday, March 31st.
The consortium is led by the states of Kentucky and Tennessee and includes the universities of Kentucky, Louisville and Tennessee and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The consortium also includes economic and development organizations from the commonwealth. The consortium also is in discussions with other national and regional institutions concerning their joining the group.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is proposing to build the NBAF to meet the demand for increasing levels of research and testing for foreign animal and zoonotic diseases. The department has determined current U.S. laboratory capabilities are inadequate to meet future research requirements.
The NBAF would provide the nation with its first integrated agricultural, zoonotic diseases and public health research, development and testing facility.
“Securing a facility of this level will bring substantial economic development to southeastern Kentucky,” said Governor Fletcher. “A research lab will also increase the research capacity of the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville. Researchers from across our nation will come to work and live in the commonwealth.”
If the consortium’s proposal is ultimately selected, the new bio-defense lab would be located in Pulaski County, Kentucky, at a site approximately 12 miles northeast of Somerset. The lab would create hundreds of jobs both during construction and to staff the facility. An economic study of the proposed facility indicates it will support more than 400 jobs with an annual local payroll of more than $30 million. Construction of the lab alone will create $262 million in new payrolls.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for southeastern Kentucky,” said Congressman Rogers. “The lab would be a magnet for scientists, technicians and engineers. It would also lay the foundation for increased economic investments in research that would benefit the area and the rest of the state. It will continue to payoff for years to come.”
Currently, Plum Island Animal Disease Center (located on Plum Island, 840 acres that lie 1.5 miles from Orient Point, New York) is the nation’s only designated facility for studying and responding to foreign animal diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease and swine fever. However, the facility is becoming outdated and ever increasing in cost to maintain.
The consortium’s Expression of Interest outlines for the Department of Homeland Security how the Pulaski County site meets or exceeds the four site-selection criteria detailed by the department. These factors are research capabilities, work force; land acquisition and construction, and community acceptance.
“It is true the competition for the lab is rigorous,” said Governor Fletcher. “However, the Kentucky/Tennessee proposal has both scientific depth and research ingenuity that makes it truly cutting edge. I want the Department of Homeland Security and Secretary Chertoff to know I want this lab in Kentucky and am prepared to do everything within my power to bring it home to the commonwealth.”
The states of Mississippi, Georgia, Texas, Arkansas and Alabama are among the states competing with Kentucky and Tennessee for the lab.