The Amarillo City Council approved an amendment that will pay for as much as $69 million for the construction of a School of Veterinary Medicine at Texas Tech University (TTU SVM), according to a news release from the city.

The establishment of the veterinary school will help to increase veterinary presence in rural areas, where the lack of veterinarians is having a negative effect on global food supplies, according to a report from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

“Rural Texas depends on agriculture as an economic driver, and the lack of large animal veterinarians in Texas can have a devastating effect on our communities,” according to a joint statement from Texas lawmakers Sen. Charles Perry, Rep. Dustin Burrows, Rep. John Frullo and Rep. John T. Smithee. “The overwhelming support for the funding of a veterinary school at Texas Tech University goes to show that both chambers and both political parties understand how important this is to rural Texas. This school will ensure students receive high quality veterinary skills and education for large animal practice in high need areas.”

Additionally, the veterinary school will be the first of its kind to be located with both a pharmacy school and medical school, creating an opportunity to make medical advancements in both animal and human health.

Brian Heinrich, chairman of the Amarillo Economic Development Corp. (AEDC) Board of Directors, is enthusiastic about the opportunity for Amarillo to become a leader in veterinary and animal health and for the economic growth the veterinary school will provide.

“The AEDC has the opportunity to position Amarillo as a hub for innovation in the human and animal health science industries — industries driving a multi-billion dollar global market growing bigger every year,” he says.

The TTU SVM will save costs by partnering students with local veterinarians instead of building a seperate teaching hospital.

When the TTU SVM is created the economic impact of Texas Tech is expected to raise from $166 million to more than $242 million.