Drones and Economic Development: Terry Sando, Grand Forks Region EDC

Is it possible to design an economic development program around the UAS Industry?

Terry Sando is the Director of UAS Sector Development at the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corporation.  The Grand Forks EDC promotes economic development in the Northeast North Dakota region, working to establish new wealth and job growth for the City and County of Grand Forks and outlying regional communities. Among the leading industries that the EDC targets is the Unmanned Industry.  In this episode of the Drone Radio Show, Terry talks about the efforts of the Grand Forks EDC to encourage and support the growth and formation of UAS companies and offers lessons to other economic development professionals on how to nurture this fast growing industry in their regions.

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In This Episode

  • [02:20] Introduction. Terry Sando is the Director of UAS Sector Development at the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corporation.  His main area of focus is the unmanned aerial systems industry.
  • [02:49] Growth of UAS in North Dakota. Terry shares the story of how the UAS industry grew out of the 2005 BRAC decision to repurpose the Grand Forks airbase as a Airforce UAS systems base. This decision fueled initial growth. State economic development planners, interested in diversifying the state’s economy, responded by establishing the UAS industry as a targeted industry for future growth.
  • [08:10] Current Initiatives. Some of the current projects being undertaken by the Grand Forks Region EDC include …
  • [08:49] Attracting UAS Companies. Over the years, North Dakota has created a positive business climate for UAS companies. Terry talks about a grant program administered by the Grand Forks Region EDC that has been successful in targeting specific companies and assisting in their relocation to North Dakota.  He also talks about reaching out to European companies and sponsoring trips to Europe to establish and grow networks that can help in relocation efforts.  Robot Aviation, a Norweigen company, recently located in Grand Forks as a result of this international outreach? Military use of drones still drives a considerable amount of economic activity as well.
  • [16:13] Relationship to the State and Local Governments. Terry talks about the positive working relationship that the Grand Forks Region EDC has with the State of North Dakota and local governments in promoting economic development.
  • [18:45] Impact of Part 107. Part 107 went into effect last year and that caused a surge in interest in UAS in the Grand Forks area.
  • [20:42] Lessons Learned. Terry gives some advice to other economic development organizations trying to nurture UAS growth in their area.
  • [24:23] Closing.

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