"Final Five"Eye National Bio Defense
Only one of the sites in five states with long-established connections to public and private bio- and agro-research operations will be chosen- but they all feel like winners.
Patrice D. Bucciarelli (Oct/Nov 07)
(page 2 of 2)
San Antonio has had such a complement for
the past seven years in the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical
Research, the only privately owned Bio Safety Level 4 facility in the
United States. Its presence, says York Duncan, president of the Texas
Research and Technology Foundation, which owns the Texas Research Park,
gives San Antonio an edge in the NBAF sweeps.
Foundation is already working on many of the things on the NBAF
agenda," says Duncan. "And the lab is part of our consortium." What's
more, he says, Fort Sam Houston will become a center for military
medicine in 2011. Thanks to its reputation as "Military City USA" for
the plethora of military bases - both active and inactive - located
there, San Antonio is accustomed to doing business with the government.
fact, it's the Texas Research Park site in San Antonio that Angelos
Angelou, founder and president of AngelouEconomics, an
Austin-Texas-based economic development consulting firm, thinks will
prevail when DHS makes its final cut. Along with its industry-specific
infrastructure, San Antonio has other economic and community aspects
site selectors appreciate.
"Texas is an agriculture center, has
military bases, has proximity to the Mexican border, and was chosen a
few years ago by the federal government for a National Security Agency
security analysis center," Angelou says. "It has all the right
connections with the right industries and with the federal government."
and those who represent site contenders have plenty of time to
speculate about where the NBAF will eventually be located; the
Department of Homeland Security won't make its final NBAF site
selection until 2009. In the meantime, some connected with the final
five sites say even losing the right to host the lab still counts as a
"Every time we pursue a project like this, we develop
relationships with other institutions and with private-sector
businesses," says North Carolina State's Barrette Slenning. "Even if we
don't get the lab, our relationships will continue to get stronger."
Mississippi's Ross Tucker, just making the final five has long term
benefits. "Whether we're chosen for the lab or not, this has been good
for us," Tucker says. "It has opened people's minds about what we can
do here - what kind of industries we have the potential to attract -
and how we can develop our potential in the long run."