First drone company signed for Nevada

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Updated: 3/21/2014 10:36 pm
RENO, Nev. ( & KRNV) -- The Governor's office is confirming some big economic news on Friday. The state has signed its first drone company.

Not much is known about the company, because it's so early in the deal. The company could be protecting its competitive edge, or the deal is still being structured.

Either way, this is the first tangible evidence these efforts are moving forward. Those closely connected to this effort say this news is very positive.

Alan Gertler is the Vice-President for Research at the Desert Research Institute. He believes we will see drone companies emerge in northern Nevada. "We have Stead Air Base that's 10 miles north of Reno, so it's right here. You have UNR, you have DRI. You have all the support companies out there. You have a tremendous facility to do your test. So I think you're going to see a lot of it up here, too."

So what types of companies might we see in our own backyard? "Everything from the small, very limited technology start-up to something like Ensideo, which is part of Boeing," said Gertler. "You cover that whole spectrum here."

Mike Richards, President and CEO of Drone America, said his Reno-based company is closely watching these developments. "It has quite an effect on what we do in Nevada and at Drone America."

His company manufactures drones that help in disaster response and emergency relief. "Finding lost souls, whether it's in the ocean or in the mountains, that's our specialty," said Richards. "There's not too many companies out there that are going to compete with us for that."

For now, Richards sees more drones manufactured in close proximity as a good thing. "There is a lot of manufacturers that produce the sensors, gimbles, cameras for us, life rafts and medical supplies."

If a competitor is among those recruited, and ends up emerging in northern Nevada, Richards sees this as the potential for an upside. "We welcome just about any company that's involved in unmanned systems, so that we have a good pool of resources. Even some perceived competitors we could actually partner with and work with on joint ventures."

Meanwhile, the Governor's Office said as many as 20 companies are lined up to follow this signed company. Gertler confirms his phones is ringing off the hook with companies showing an interest in locating to Nevada.
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