TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The U.S. Department of Commerce has invested in a nearly $8 million project at The University of Kansas (KU) in Lawrence. The Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $7.8 million grant to the Bioscience & Technology Business Center at the university to build a new facility to create more opportunities for entrepreneurship and technology in the community.
State Leaders met for the groundbreaking event today, celebrating Phase 3 of the project.
U.S Senator for Kansas, Jerry Moran, says the project is part of the critical mission of the EDA to assist the economic activity in “opportunity zones” across the country.
“We can help grow the economy by improving the chances that our students in Kansas have access to an education that provides the best education in technology and engineering,” Moran says.
The funding announced goes to one of Kansas’ 74 Opportunity Zones. The zones were established by a tax reform bill signed in 2017 by President Trump.
The project will be used to build a 66,000 square foot lab space, where bioscience companies can develop their business.
State leaders say bringing the business here will help local communities be more prepared in the face of natural disasters, and help tackle future economic hits.
“And the fact that we got this going in here reassures us that, as we come out of this pandemic, KU and Kansas will be well positioned to grow into prosperity,” says Governor Laura Kelly, who announced the distribution of nearly $50 million to underserved Kansas communities without broadband access.
Anthony Foti, Assistant Secretary for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs at the U.S. Department of Commerce, says one way to keep the economy moving is with a strong foundation of workers.
“I think the workforce of the 21st century really requires a new look at the way students are educated whether it’s stem or retooling the next generation of workforce,” he says.
Legislators say the goal of this project, and other developments in Opportunity Zone areas, is to create economic opportunities in distressed communities nationwide.
The EDA grant will be matched with more than $14 million in state and local funds.
The project’s expected to create 225 jobs for Lawrence and surrounding communities, and generate $142 million in private investment.