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Published February 05, 2014, 11:04 AM

Grand Forks County close to OK on UAS park agreement

The County Commission is waiting to tie up some loose ends with the proposed Grand Sky unmanned aerial systems park before giving the developer, FDSL, the go-ahead to proceed.

By: Anna Burleson, Grand Forks Herald

The County Commission is waiting to tie up some loose ends with the proposed Grand Sky unmanned aerial systems park before giving the developer, FDSL, the go-ahead to proceed.

At a meeting Tuesday, the board supported a plan that would alleviate the county of all responsibility in making sure the Grand Forks Air Force Base receives the proper payments.

“There is a guarantee that the county will be held harmless,” consultant George Schlossberg said.

This was a point of contention in the agreement that has now been resolved.

“When we went into this, our goal was to have no liability on our citizens and on the county itself, and I think that’s what you will see we have developed through all of this,” Commissioner John Schmisek said.

The board is waiting on the results of the Air Force’s environmental study as well as a few other bits of paperwork before signing the agreement.

Commissioner Gary Malm voiced concerns about a “good faith” section in the agreement which calls for 80 percent of subcontractors hired for Grand Sky to be from North Dakota, but should the developer fail, they would present their reasons to the board before hiring out-of-state companies.

“It’s a goal, basically,” Schmisek said.

Northrop Grumman Corp., a large defense and aerospace technology company, is in line to be the first tenant at Grand Sky once the agreement is signed. Even though there aren’t any other potential tenants announced yet, North Dakota Department of Commerce projections show the UAS industry would have a $59 million economic impact and 242 jobs would be created in the state through 2016.

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