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Mississippi is finalist for $500 million bio-defense project


By Arnold Lindsay

alindsay@clarionledger.com

 

Mississippi is among the finalists in the running for a proposed a $500 million National Bio and Agrodefense Facility that would employ 400 workers.

 

The announcement was made in Washington today. Mississippi, which has offered 150-acre locations in Hinds, Madison and Rankin counties, was among finalist sites in 11 states — culled from the 29 proposed sites submitted.

 

The lab will replace the Plum Island Animal Disease Center on Long Island, N.Y., which was built in 1950. It will pay average salaries of $75,000 annually, with scientists holding half those jobs.

"Mississippians should be excited that our state is very much in the running to host and serve as a site for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, but we must realize this is only the first step," Gov. Haley Barbour said in a statement. "Mississippi is the best place to locate this critical facility and we will continue to work closely with the Bush Administration and our congressional delegation to clearly demonstrate that fact.

 

"Mississippi being a semi-finalist comes as no surprise given the strong scientific team that has been assembled for this project. The biomedical research that is ongoing in our universities is world class. In our state we have the technical capacity and the intellectual prowess that makes us a perfect match for the NBAF project," Barbour said.

 

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will question semi-finalists more before making a final decision in early 2007.



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