Rep. Claeys Brings Sec. of Commerce, Dir. of Aviation into Discussion on Future of UAS in Salina
Salina, Kans. -- Rep. J.R. Claeys (R-Salina) invited the Secretary of Commerce, Antonio Soave, and the Kansas Department of Transportation Aviation Director, Merrill Atwater, to Salina to discuss the next steps in the development of the unmanned aircraft systems industry in Salina. The visit included stops at the Kansas State University Bulk Solids Innovation Facility and the campus of Kansas State Polytechnic at the Salina Airport.
Salina business leaders involved in the downtown redevelopment project, representatives from the university, city, airport authority and chamber of commerce all participated in a wide ranging discussion on the UAS industry and the steps necessary to grow aviation jobs in Salina.
Rep. Claeys has already initiated the Kansas Unmanned Aircraft Systems Research Triangle between Kansas State Polytechnic, the University of Kansas and Wichita State, through a budget proviso. Claeys also worked with KDOT leadership to create the Director of UAS position in KDOT Aviation and implemented a requirement that the new director have an office on the campus of Kansas State Polytechnic.
"Having the new KDOT director of unmanned aircraft systems located on the campus of Kansas State Polytechnic in Salina is just the beginning," said Claeys. "The industry is going to grow, and we are going to be in a position to attract the high-skill, good-paying jobs that go along with this emerging technology."
Rep. Claeys outlined a plan to grow the UAS industry in Salina that includes new facilities at Kansas State Polytechnic, a small business incubator, an aviation research park, and incentives to attract and grow businesses here. (Read more about Rep. Claeys' plan here). Several steps in Rep. Claeys' plan have been accomplished, while others will include further collaboration between the state, Kansas State Polytechnic, the city, airport authority and Salina Chamber.
Kansas State Polytechnic has been independently ranked as one of the top two programs in the nation for unmanned aircraft systems and has been consistently rated in the top three nationwide since its inception. Secretary Soave met with the leadership of the UAS program to understand what sets Salina apart.
"Our secretary of commerce wasn't here for a tour," said Claeys. "He left here armed with the tools to sell our community to the world as a national hub for the growth of an industry."