How UAS could reshape small town North Dakota

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GRAND FORKS, N.D. (Valley News Live) The UAS summit kicked off in Grand Forks and as some companies are setting up shop. Some locals are wondering what more people coming to town could mean for the community.

"I can tell you the drone industry is currently one of the hottest ones," said Andrej Srsen who works for Sharper Shape, one company that had a booth at the expo.

Favorable regulation is why they Sharper Shape started in Finland. Now, favorable regulation has lead them to open an office in Grand Forks. They say it's because there is no better place to be on the forefront of UAS technology.

Meanwhile, two of the biggest players in the drone world are making waves at Grand Sky. General Atomics is breaking ground on a UAS pilot training center. The other big player, Northrop Grumman, they plan on hiring 100 people by the end of the year.

Some wary of the effects more people in the region will mean. Others say it's all good.

"Grand Forks County is primed to grow," said Brandon Bumbach of the Grand Forks Region Economic Corporation. He says the county's infrastructure is prepared for growth and that smaller towns in the county could be seeing some new faces soon.

"Have already heard that a Northrop Grumman employee purchased a home in Hatton, North Dakota," Bumbach said. "Because some people, where ever they're coming from, may prefer to live out in the countryside rather than in town."

However findings in a study done by the Grand Forks Region Economic Corporation found that a greater percentage of people are moving out of the country and into the city.

The study published this July found that 76 percent of Grand Forks county residents were living in the city in 2000. In 2016 that number grew to 81 percent.