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Tennesse Company Bidding to Become FAA Drone Testing Site

If the company is chosen, economists expect it to bring thousands of jobs and millions of dollars to the state

HARDIN COUNTY, TN -- There's a big push to bring unmanned aircraft or drones to Tennessee. 

A company in the small city of Savannah, about 100 miles east of Memphis, is in the middle of applying to become a test site for the Federal Aviation Administration. 

If the company is chosen, economists expect it to bring thousands of jobs and millions of dollars to the state. 

"It pays to be a rural area for things like this," says state representative Vance Dennis.

The FAA wants to open six unmanned aircraft test sites around the country. 

"We're hoping one of those will be here in Hardin County." Dennis says.

The process started in 2012 with 50 applicants. The ISR Group in Savannah is part of 20 or so still under consideration.  

The technology company opened three years ago specializing in unmanned aircraft. 

"Bringing this facility in, being approved right here on this corridor between MTSU and Murfreesboro and Huntsville, that's where we need to be," says Beth Pippin. "The whole region around Alabama and Tennessee would keep growing."

Economists believe it would bring 93 million dollars in taxes to Tennessee in the first three years

It would add almost 5,000 jobs with an average Salary of $85-$115,000. 

They'd need to hire pilots, engineers and consultants. 

"MTSU has a new degree program based solely on unmanned aerial vehicles," Dennis says.

"MTSU is so close to us it's a good place fr students to go," adds Pippin. "They can learn and get that education to come back to our community."

"(The FAA) keeps narrowing it down and narrowing it down. I think this facility is already ahead of the schedule."

The selection process will be finalized in the next 12-18 months.
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