America's Animal Health Corridor
The nation's premier animal health companies are benefiting from the synergy created by their clustering in the Kansas City area.
Area Development Research Desk (Oct/Nov 09)

Between Columbia, Missouri, and Manhattan, Kansas, sits the single largest concentration of animal health interests in the world. In fact, Kansas City area companies account for nearly 32 percent of total sales in the $19 billion global animal health market and employ about 13,000 people. Consequently, the region has been dubbed America's Animal Health Corridor. Its companies and educational institutions lead the nation in animal health and nutrition research, innovation, business functions, and production.

Included among the corridor's 220+ animal health companies are the North American or global headquarters of 40+ global leaders in the animal health industry, including Bayer HealthCare Animal Health, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Hill's Pet Nutrition, Intervet/Schering-Plough, and CEVA/Biomune. This list represents five of the world's 10 largest animal health companies, two of the world's five largest pet food companies, and the world's largest animal health generics manufacturer.

A variety of value-added benefits have helped contribute to the growth and success of these and other companies in the corridor, including top-notch educational institutions, top-tier transportation connections, and generous incentives for companies in the animal health industry.

Specially Educated Work Force
Companies in the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor have the advantage of being located in the center of an area with a heavy concentration of animal health training programs. Specifically, Kansas City is located between two of America's top veterinary schools - the University of Missouri-Columbia and Kansas State University.

Additionally, within a 300-mile radius are three more of the nation's leading veterinary schools: Iowa State University, Oklahoma State University, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. All told, these institutions provide a steady pipeline of talented, educated individuals. In fact, Kansas and Iowa state universities and the University of Missouri have together produced more than 13,000 doctors of veterinary medicine.

According to Lynn Parman, president of bioscience development at the Kansas City Area Development Council, "Researchers want to come to an area where they can advance their name, advance their skills, and publish. Those things are advanced by the fact that Kansas City sits at the center of a triangle created by three of the most recognized land grant colleges in the United States."

But in addition to educational institutions supplying animal scientists with backgrounds in veterinary medicine and surgery, biomedical sciences, pathobiology, molecular biology, microbiology, and genetics, Kansas City area community colleges and technical schools are supplying the degreed veterinary and research laboratory technicians prepared to fill the life sciences work force continuum that supplies qualified workers at all levels.

For example, Kansas City's Metropolitan Community College offers a vet tech program; and the Institute of Industrial and Applied Life Sciences at Western State University in Saint Joseph, Missouri, offers customized animal health training programs.

Parman further notes that one big advantage to being located in the corridor is increased access to the laboratory-skilled labor pool, which helps companies recruit talented people.

Logistics Hub for the Animal Health Industry
A central location makes it easier to serve both livestock and companion animal veterinarians from the Kansas City area. Also, many of the nation's major distributors - FEDEX, CSX Conway, UPS Ground - maintain distribution facilities in the Kansas City area. In addition, YRC Worldwide and Kansas City Southern Railway are headquartered in Kansas City.

According to area representatives, other key components make Kansas City a top-tier logistical hub including:
• The largest rail center by tonnage in the United States
• More foreign-trade zone space than any other U.S. city (over 10,000 acres)
• A location at the intersection of three interstate highways: I-35, I-70, and I-29
• The top air cargo center in a six-state region
• A location on the largest navigable inland waterway
• A location in the heart of a rail corridor spanning the United States from coast to coast and extending from Canada to Mexico

Paul Hays, president of Synbiotics Corp., notes that his company "needed to be closer to many of its customers, animal disease researchers, and animal vaccine manufacturers. Kansas City is the best location to touch all of those."

Tax and Incentive Programs
To top it off, companies in Kansas City's Animal Health Corridor can take advantage of numerous tax and financial incentives geared specifically toward their sector. Among these are:
• A $580 million fund (derived over 12 years) overseen by the Kansas Biosciences Authority through which it can offer forgivable loans, research funding (for Kansas universities), and other financial incentives to assist bioscience-related companies, including those in animal health, in making investments in Kansas
• Exemption of personal property taxes on machinery and equipment through a bill passed into law by the Kansas legislature in 2007
• Refundable state income tax credits, provided by the Missouri Quality Jobs Program, which allow companies to retain a portion of their employees' payroll withholding taxes in a refund check

National Recognition
And it came as no surprise when early in 2009 the corridor was picked by the Department of Homeland Security as the home of the new $650 million National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. Work at the state-of the-art, high-security BioSafety Level 4 laboratory facility will focus on the study of foreign animal and zoonotic (transferable from animal to human) diseases that can impact livestock.

Joerg Ohle, president of Bayer Animal Health and the Animal Health Corridor Advisory Board chair, sums up the region's advantages: "The Animal Health Corridor offers unparalleled expertise and resources for those companies located here. As the Animal Health Corridor thrives, businesses will have more opportunities to grow through access to a greater pool of highly skilled workers, more options for strategic partnerships, and through a favorable legislative
environment." 

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