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Bigger Than Toyota? San Antonio Wants Bio-Defense Lab

Last Update: 1/20/2007 10:10:30 AM

Posted By: Vickie Jean Summers

» Read and view the WOAI-TV news story online

It may be the biggest thing happening to San Antonio. The federal Department of Homeland Security wants to build a national laboratory to fight bio-terrorism and San Antonio is on the short list. City leaders are making their final push and hoping the community shows its support.

Scientists in space suits could someday mean as much to our local economy as all those assembly line workers at the Toyota plant. The lab would provide hundreds of high-paying jobs, sprout suppliers and spin-off businesses, and put San Antonio at the center of the war on terrorism.

"In terms of national security, this is vaccine development,” says Dr. Harold Timboe, Vice Chairman of the consortium of research facilities trying to land the laboratory. “It protects human lives. It protects livestock and our food supply." The lab would replace Plum Island in New York as the national headquarters for studying animal-to-human diseases and biological weapons. San Antonio is one of a dozen cities still in the running, with three possible sites in town: the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, Brooks City-Base, and the Texas Research Park.

The Southwest Foundation is already one of only a few labs in the country allowed to conduct the most dangerous biological research.

“We have an impeccable record in containment research,” says Timboe. "We think we'll compete very well amongst the other 11 cities that are still in the running for this very prestigious federal laboratory."

Community leaders are meeting Wednesday, January 24th to plan their strategy. Department of Homeland Security officials will do site visits here this spring. And a decision on this $500 million facility will be made in 2008.  

Web Posted: 1/20/2007 10:10:30 AM,  Posted By: Vickie Jean Summers, Express-News Business Writer

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