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New York State to invest $5 million in drone industry in Upstate

By Eric Reinhardt


A drone that officials made available for viewing at Syracuse University’s Manley Field House when the NUAIR Alliance on Jan. 3, 2014 announced New York City–based Flyterra as the first client to begin unmanned-aircraft testing (UAS) at Hancock Air Field as part of the NUAIR test site of drones. New York has announced plans to invest $5 million to “support and grow the emerging” unmanned-aerial systems (UAS) industry in New York. (Eric Reinhardt / BJNN file photo)

New York State plans to invest $5 million to “support and grow the emerging” unmanned-aerial systems (UAS) industry in Upstate.

Unmanned-aerial systems are also referred to as drones.

With this “initial” funding, the state will “bolster” the ongoing efforts to create a hub for UAS “innovation” and manufacturing in upstate New York, the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a news release issued Tuesday.

The hub will be “specifically supporting concepts originated by NASA,” Cuomo’s office said.

The concepts will include the planning and design of next-generation, unmanned-aerial, traffic-management infrastructure; national UAS standardized testing and rating facilities; and an “innovation” district dedicated to unmanned systems in a corridor between the cities of Syracuse and Rome.

 “With the announcement of this significant investment, New York State is furthering its commitment to the efforts of focusing on this emerging field. We are determined to ensure that our state is well-positioned when it comes to the burgeoning unmanned-aircraft system industry,” Howard Zemsky, president, CEO, & commissioner of Empire State Development, said in Cuomo’s release.

The announcement follows Zemsky’s participation in a policy workshop on drones and the future of aviation that the White House Office of Science and Technology hosted Tuesday.

The $5 million in funding launches New York’s commitment to growing the drone industry through the strategies outlined in the “Central NY Rising” plan.

Aerospace firms, such as the DeWitt plant of Saab; the Salina location of Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT); and the Cicero–based SRC Inc, and regional organizations, such as the NUAIR Alliance, are supporting the effort, Cuomo’s office said.

The nonprofit NUAIR Alliance is short for Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance.

NUAIR operates a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-designated drone test site at Griffiss International Airport in Rome.

The future of UAS traffic-management standards, innovation, and technology is “poised to take root” in Central New York and the Mohawk Valley, Robert Simpson, president and CEO of CenterState CEO, said in Cuomo’s release.

“This investment is among the first in the New York State’s multimillion dollar commitment through the CNY Rising plan to further develop this sector here. It’s validation that, with private-sector expertise, broad industry partnerships, and an FAA-designated test site, we have a leading role to play in the global development of the UAS industry,” said Simpson.

Simpson is also co-chair of the Central New York regional economic-development council.

The announcement also complements “Central NY Rising,” the region’s winning plan in Cuomo’s 2015 Upstate economic-development contest that some media outlets dubbed, “Upstate Hunger Games.”

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