The decision by Silicon Valley-based Plug and Play to bring its business incubation platform to Topeka and Shawnee County should raise spirits and hopes across the state. With this powerful partner in place, we could see stunning economic development ahead.

To put it simply, the company helps create other successful companies through investment and resources.

"We have been able to attract the world's leading innovation platform, based in Silicon Valley, to go into partnership with Topeka and Shawnee County," Greater Topeka Partnership’s Katrin Bridges told The Topeka Capital-Journal’s India Yarborough. "This is why Plug and Play is here. They provide the space for entrepreneurs. They provide the access to resources. And they provide the access to capital if you need it."

The specific reason the company is here? The Animal Health Corridor, the stretch of the Midwest from Manhattan to Columbia, Missouri.

“This area hosts about 300 or more companies in the animal heath diagnostics and pet food industry that generate global sales of over $50 billion,” Bridges said. It’s an attractive area for a company looking to build and invest in start-up businesses.

Investment like this is crucial for the future of Topeka, Shawnee County and all of Kansas. We cannot survive on our past glories or on our current range of businesses, as valued and important as they are. We must grow, and we must innovate. The entrepreneurs of today will become the tycoons and city elders of tomorrow.

So many of the challenges faced by our state — brain drain, depletion of rural areas, slow population and economic growth — could be addressed or even solved by business innovation. We have talented people and great institutions of higher education. We have incredible agricultural and animal health knowledge on hand.

All it takes is the willingness to seize the initiative and forge into the future.

Stephen Fay, Plug and Play's director of corporate partnerships, put it well: "The first time we came out to Topeka and saw the landscape and the ecosystem of the corporations, the excitement and really the challenges at hand, we thought to ourselves, 'We need to be here.'"

The ingredients for success are at hand. We now need to have residents in the state and region step up to create those businesses and startups, and to invest their time and abilities into making them succeed. All of us across the state will benefit.