Missouri using $176M in federal pandemic funds to build multi-agency laboratory

(The Center Square) – Missouri will spend approximately $151 million in federal pandemic taxpayer funds to build a 208,000-square-foot building for multiple state laboratories.

The Multi-Agency State Laboratory Campus was funded by the General Assembly with money from the American Rescue Plan Act. The new building will have laboratories for five state agencies: the Department of Health and Senior Services, Department of Agriculture, Department of Conservation, Department of Natural Resources and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

House Bill 2020 in the fiscal year 2025 budget allocated $102 million to the Office of Administration for the Department of Public Safety for the “planning, design, construction and equipping of a crime laboratory as part of a multi-agency laboratory campus including building space, laboratory space, fixtures, equipment, systems furniture and parking infrastructure.” The bill allocated $74 million to the Office of Administration for the Department of Health and Senior Services with the same description except for the addition, “provided no funds shall be expended to the World Health Organization.”

Missouri received approximately $2.7 billion in state fiscal recovery funds under ARPA in 2021. The law was intended to mitigate the negative impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. Federal regulations limited the funds to public health expenditures, address negative economic impacts cause by the public health emergency, replace lost public sector revenue and invest in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.

The new building will be connected to the existing State Public Health Laboratory with an elevated walkway. New parking will be constructed to serve the new and existing facilities.

“Today marks the beginning of a new era for our state where innovation, efficiency, and excellence converge to serve our communities better than ever before,” Ken Zellers, commissioner of the Office of Administration, said in a statement. “The construction of this new state-of-the-art laboratory is a significant leap forward in our commitment to public health, safety, agricultural production, wildlife and overall environmental stewardship.”

McCownGordon was selected by the Office of Administration’s Facilities, Management, Design and Construction Division to be the construction manager for the project. All five state agencies will be involved in regular presentations, review and discussions on the project. The building is expected to be completed by October 2026. ARPA funds must be expended by Dec. 31, 2026.

“The creation of this new state laboratory campus marks a significant milestone for the state of Missouri,” Missouri Republican Gov. Mike Parson said in a statement. “This one-stop-shop will allow us to do better in advancing scientific research, fostering innovation, and improving community health. This facility will serve as a hub for cutting-edge discoveries, bringing together the brightest minds to address the challenges of today and tomorrow.”

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