Media Coverage

New entrants into KC Corridor highlight ongoing strength of region's ecosystem

Aug 30, 2017 - Animal Pharm
By Joseph Harvey
Animal Pharm
August 30, 2017 

Despite adding 52 new companies since 2006, the growth of the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor (KCAHC) shows no sign of abating.

Pet therapeutics specialist Companion Animal Health and food testing firm Maxxam Analytics are the latest companies to join the KCAHC.

Companion Animal Health has established a regional office and training center in Lee's Summit, Missouri. At this location, the company will focus on its rehabilitation and diagnostic services.

The Delaware-headquartered business specializes in manufacturing therapeutic lasers and rehabilitation regenerative medicines. Companion Animal Health is a division of LiteCure, which focuses on laser therapies in the human health market.

Maxxam has opened a 3,000-square-foot analytical food testing laboratory on the campus of Kansas State University Olathe.

This move aims to establish Maxxam as the leading choice for analytical food testing for the host of businesses within the KCAHC, which is home to some of the firm's existing partners.

Maxxam is just one of a group of companies under Bureau Veritas – an international testing, inspection and certification firm. The Maxxam food division has particular expertise in microbiology, chemistry and residue testing of food samples. The firm already has around 2,200 employees in 45 facilities across North America, with approximately 2.5 million samples being processed every year.

"K-State Olathe's partnership with Maxxam will have many benefits for Greater Kansas City's workforce and for pets everywhere," said Ralph Richardson, dean and chief executive of K-State Olathe. "Maxxam is helping ensure that our pets are consuming safer food, creating new jobs in Olathe and helping usher in a more skilled workforce for the region."

KCAHC focused on the next generation of talent

Kimberly Young, president of the non-profit KCAHC, told Animal Pharm: "The corridor is 13 years in now. It took around five or six years to get the local community behind it but from then on, it has really taken off."

The KCAHC is focused on three pillars of expertise, which it continues to strengthen. Firstly, the corridor is intent on improving workforce development and addressing any skill gaps at local animal health companies.

Emily McVey, a director at the KCAHC, heads up the workforce development scheme in the region. She said: "With all the companies in the corridor, we have to make sure we are prepared to feed these assets. We have to engage young talent and make sure they realize the career opportunities in animal health."

One task for the KCAHC is to highlight a pathway for newly-graduated veterinarians into the animal health industry – a career path that may not be necessarily obvious or viable to young people.

"Being a veterinarian is a career they already know but our career awareness program will hopefully expose graduates to the companies we have here. We have to think: How are we going to tell the full life story of veterinary products getting to the market and the workforce behind it? There are careers out there in business, research and science," Ms McVey explained. 

She also pointed out the shifting nature of jobs in the animal health industry. As more technology is being harnessed, the KCAHC sub-board on workforce development "will have to be visionary on how a career in animal health will look in 10-15 years' time."

She concluded: "Animal health is a viable career. With such a big demand for protein, the market is going to have to grow. So, there's a sense of stability in animal health."

Creating an ecosystem and strengthening bonds between competitors

The second core focus of the KCAHC, is the continued engagement of the industry and the expansion of the businesses already located in the corridor.

Ms Young said: "The KCAHC has started to grow the regional economic base, provide more jobs and more payroll. This is what we continue to do. We want to bring companies together. When competitors meet, they check their company in at the door. We wave a flag in KC and it helps companies. It's collective help – everyone gets a seat at the table, big or small. There's no other location like this in the US with the focus and the ecosystem we have."

Already this year, Chinese vaccine leader Jinyu Bio-technology and US companion animal therapeutics firm Kindred Biosciences have joined the corridor, while Virbac established its product warehousing distribution in the region – showing the diversity of businesses moving to the area.

Thirdly, the KCAHC provides an umbrella under which local firms can come together on public policy matters.

"We're not a lobbying organization but we can coordinate messages," Ms Young said. An example of this came during the US federal government shutdown of 2013, when USDA inspectors were deemed non-essential workforce and their work was indefinitely suspended. This meant the approval of veterinary biologics was temporarily impacted, resulting in potentially significant food safety problems.

Ms Young said the KCAHC was able to bring local animal health companies together and agree on a message to send to key personnel in Washington to voice the consensus opinion of the lack of USDA services. The KCAHC was able to team up with other organizations such as the Animal Health Institute and the Poultry Council to build a groundswell of support for the USDA.

One week later, USDA inspectors were categorized as essential during the government shutdown and were able to carry on with their work.

Ms Young pointed out the public policy work the KCAHC carries out is "a reactive thing we do" to resolve certain political situations.

"It shows industry is willing to come together with competitors on matters like these – they are stronger together," Ms Young told Animal Pharm.

Reprinted with permission of Animal Pharm News




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