U.S. Sens. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today joined Reps. Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.) and John J. Duncan Jr. (R-Tenn.) in applauding the announcement by the Department of Homeland Security that a local site is a finalist for the location of a new National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF).
The site in Pulaski County, Ky., was nominated by the Kentucky/Tennessee NBAF Consortium, which partners the University of Tennessee and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory with the University of Kentucky, the University of Louisville, and other university and industry partners.
The new national lab will research biological threats involving human, zoonotic and foreign animal diseases. DHS estimates the facility will contain approximately 500,000 square feet of lab space, with construction costs running upwards of $450 million. Once operational, the facility is expected to directly support over 400 jobs with an annual payroll of $30.5 million. The effort to bring the facility to the region is supported by the governors and congressional delegations of both Tennessee and Kentucky.
“East Tennessee has a long tradition of research that benefits homeland security, and today’s announcement brings us one step closer to adding to that impressive legacy,” Frist said. “Locating this research facility in the region would create jobs, benefit the local economy and further cement East Tennessee’s standing as a one of the nation’s premier scientific research communities. I commend the consortium for their efforts and will continue to work with them and the congressional delegation to bring this opportunity to the region.”
"This is very good news, and I am proud of the work in Tennessee and Kentucky that has gone into this effort,” Alexander said. “Tennessee’s capabilities for performing innovative work in this area are unique and growing. I expect the proposal from the Kentucky-Tennessee partnership for siting this new national lab to be very competitive. I applaud Hal Rogers for his leadership at the federal level on this important effort."
"The strong partnership of the University of Tennessee and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory would give any consortium the strength to compete for a major mission in Homeland Security or research of this nature,” Wamp said. "I appreciate the leadership of Chairman Hal Rogers in putting these great institutions together. We are committed to this partnership and hope to stay competitive throughout this process."
“We have many valuable scientific resources in our region and I am pleased that DHS recognizes East Tennessee’s potential to further our nation’s bio-defense research,” said Duncan. “I look forward to working with my colleagues and the consortium to bring this facility to our area.”
DHS will continue to evaluate and conduct site visits to the 14 proposed sites and could announce a final selection early next year.