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January 17, 2013

Oklahoma poised for aerospace job growth

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma is well positioned to become a leader in the unmanned aerial vehicle industry, with the possibility of nearly 600 new jobs and a $57.6 million economic impact by 2017, Gov. Mary Fallin and aerospace officials said Wednesday.

Citing an industry-commissioned study, Fallin said the state is projected to create 593 jobs from 2015 to 2017 after the Federal Aviation Administration completes a plan to integrate drones into U.S. airspace.

The study, which has not been released, was commissioned by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International and conducted by Darryl Jenkins, an aviation industry economist and former professor at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.

“UAS represents one of the fastest growing segments of the aerospace industry, which already is an important part of the Oklahoma economy,” Fallin said. “We are taking the steps necessary to create an environment conducive to job creation and investment that also positions Oklahoma as a national leader in the advancement of UAS technology.”

Fallin’s secretary of technology, Stephen McKeever, said programs already have been developed at Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma to train students in the field. And the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has established a test facility for unmanned aerial vehicles in Elgin that takes advantage of unrestricted air space at Fort Sill.

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