North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R) on Friday signed legislation funding a $1.5 million base retention grant program for the state’s defense communities.
The funds would be allocated for the two years beginning July 1 and would support Grand Forks and Minot Air Force bases, and the Air National Guard Base in Fargo. Each community can receive up to $500,000.
The legislation, the state Department of Commerce budget bill, also includes $7.5 million for infrastructure development at the Grand Sky unmanned aerial systems (UAS) business and aviation park at Grand Forks AFB. The 217-acre project is being developed under an enhanced use lease with Grand Forks County. Plans call for 1.2 million square feet of hangar, office, shop, laboratory and data center space required for research, testing, training and operations of UAS.
The provision allocates $3.1 million for taxiway reconnection and alert pad refurbishment after the project secures its first private sector tenant. The remaining funds will be awarded after a second private sector tenant signs on to the project.
A separate component of the legislation provides $2.7 million for operations at the Northern Plains UAS Test Site, one of six test sites selected by the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct research to determine how best to safely integrate UAS into the national airspace.
“We are excited to be in Grand Forks to sign the Commerce bill, which includes more than $10 million in funding to expand the state’s UAS industry, and to highlight the nearly $175 million in legislation that was passed this session with direct benefits to the region,” Dalrymple said according to a press release.