Biodefense and Security

Definition and Overview: At the heart of Greater Manhattan’s Bio-Defense and Security target are the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility and Kansas State University’s Biosecurity Research Institute. As the nation’s only Biosafety Level (BSL) 4 facility capable of handling large cattle and other livestock, NBAF will target specific high-consequence threats including foot and mouth disease, African swine fever, classical swine fever, nipah virus, hendra virus, and ebola. As a whole, the Bio-Defense and Security sector encompasses public and private sector research and development activities aimed at understanding and thwarting acts of biological terrorism and warfare in order to safeguard the global human and animal population from pandemic outbreaks. Vaccine development, testing, and validation; pathogendetection technology development and validation; contamination control; outbreak modeling and disease prediction; and zoonotic disease prevention are central components of Greater Manhattan’s Bio-Defense and Security target.

Institutional Capacity: As Greater Manhattan’s private sector Bio-Defense and Security sector continues to mature, businesses locating within the region will benefit from the wealth of intellectual capital and innovation output at entities including the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases, the Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Diseases, and the Biosecurity Research Institute.

Site Considerations: Key site location factors in the Bio-Defense and Security target differ depending on the size and nature of the company. Startups, for instance, will require low cost laboratory and office space with flexible lease arrangements that allow them to scale depending on their needs. Founders will also seek out areas with strong venture capital capacity or regions with strong connection to external venture capital networks. More established companies will require specialized research facilities. However, traditional site location factors such as state and local tax climates, local economic development incentives, and quality of life factors may also influence site location decisions. Regardless of firm type, intellectual capital and the ease to access this capital are critical considerations. With the increase in office space in conjunction with Kansas State University’s Foundation.

National Trends: According to the Trust for America’s Health, over half of the United States is unprepared for the next pandemic or bioterrorism event. Out of 50 states measured in the “Ready or Not: Protecting the Public’s Health from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism” report, 26 states scored a six or lower on ten key indicators that determine how prepared a state is to respond to a public health crisis. Moreover, the Trust for America’s Health found a number of critical deficiencies that undermine the nation’s capability to respond to a pandemic or bioterrorism attack including reactive, insufficient funding; continued cuts to healthcare emergency preparedness funds; and disjointed planning throughout the emergency response apparatus. In terms of food system security, the interconnectivity of global trade will likely necessitate a global response to animal health and wellness, similar to the response now engaged in the human health sphere. With the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, Greater Manhattan will become an important focal point of this global response.


At present, Greater Manhattan’s Bio-Defense and Security sector is largely composed of public sector employment housed at Kansas State University. However, private sector activity is beginning to emerge and will likely strengthen as the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility becomes operational.

Regional Bio-Defense and Security research and development employment is rapidly growing.From 2006 to 2016, scientific research and development services and other scientific and technical consulting services subsectors grew by nearly 300 percent and 175 percent respectively. Nationally, both the scientific research and development services (11.9 percent) and other scientific and technical consulting services (50.1 percent) grew at a far less rapid pace. If Greater Manhattan’s research and development employment continues to outpace the national average, these subsectors will become more concentrated. These trends can assuage workforce availability concerns among prospective companies looking to relocate operations to capitalize on NBAF and other assets.

Bio-Defense and Security is an important component of Greater Manhattan’s research base. According to the National Science Foundation, K-State expended $121.9 million in animal and life sciences research in 2015. Federal, state, and institutional sources comprised the bulk of this spending. As the research institutions throughout Greater Manhattan pull in dollars from outside of the region, these dollars get recycled throughout the regional economy as the researchers and their staff spend wages on consumer goods, housing, and other goods. Research institutions themselves might further recycle state and federal investment regionally through relationships with local equipment and services suppliers.

It is important to note total employment figures do not incorporate employment associated with the construction of the National Bio and Agro-Defense facility. At its peak in the 3rd quarter of 2017 and the 2nd quarter of 2019, NBAF is expected to house 878 daily onsite construction personnel. This employment will taper off starting in the 3rd quarter of 2019 before winding down to zero in the third quarter of 2021. These workers and their families will also generate secondary economic activity leading to the creation of even more local jobs.


As configured for this target, Greater Manhattan’s Bio-Defense and Security occupations number 3,625 positions, or 5 percent of the regional total.While these workers will not all have skills that are immediately transferable to NBAF or a private Bio-Defense and Security firm, the high number of potential workers who could be trained for these positions is a compelling attractor for outside prospects.

Bio-Defense and Security occupations are among Greater Manhattan’s most highly concentrated relative to the average community nationwide. Agricultural engineers (3.6 times as concentrated as the national average), agriculture and food scientists (2.6 times), agricultural and food science technicians (4.3 times), and statisticians (1.2 times) displayed particular areas of specialization within the Bio-Defense and Security sector. Companies utilizing these specific skill sets may find Greater Manhattan a compelling destination from a workforce availability standpoint.

The $1.5 billion NBAF facility will place further strain on K-State and Manhattan Area Technical College to satisfy Bio-Defense and Security hiring demands. An impact report conducted by K-State finds that NBAF will create 326 job directly and 236 jobs indirectly. Given the nature of NBAF research, facility employees will be among the most highly specialized, highly trained within the Greater Manhattan region. (Trent, in here we should put a line about USDA’s joint venture to offer degrees in Animal Health Bioscience)