December 16, 2015

North Dakota: The drone capital of the United States

Bloomberg Paul Murphy – November 24, 2015

Grand Forks, North Dakota, is emerging as a hub for the growing network of companies that develop and test Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS).

In October, leading UAS vendors General Atomics and Northrop Grumman Corp. became the first companies to break ground at the Grand Sky Business and Aviation Park, the first U.S. business park devoted to UAS technology.

Grand Forks is one of six FAA-administered UAS test sites established by the FAA’s 2012 reauthorization bill, thanks to language inserted by North Dakota Republican Senator John Hoeven.

Grand Sky is a public-private partnership using Grand Forks Air Force Base land rented to Grand Forks County and subleased to Grand Sky Development Corp., which is soliciting and managing tenants.

The president of Grand Sky Development Company, Tom Swoyer, Jr., estimates the project will ultimately be worth hundreds of millions of dollars and involve a number of the key firms in the UAS market.

“We are thrilled to welcome General Atomics to the park and excited to support the continued advancement of the UAS industry at this state-of-the-art training facility,” Swoyer said in a news release. “This training academy is a great example of the capabilities offered at Grand Sky and the enormous potential it offers to help tenants move forward with their missions.”

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