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Grand Forks County picks new developer for UAS tech park

The Grand Forks County Commission approved a new developer for the Grand Sky unmanned-aircraft-system tech park Monday after another developer backed out.

Grand Sky Development Co., owned by Texas-based Infinity Development Partners, will be in charge of recruiting tenants and developing the 217 acres the county leased from Grand Forks Air Force Base.

The Air Force still has to approve the deal, but Commissioner John Schmisek said at a Monday commission meeting that he didn’t foresee any issues.

“It’s really just a mutual backing out and a mutual insertion of a new developer,” he said.

Grand Sky Development has done work in the past on the tech park’s lease proposal.

The county’s goal is to turn the tech park into a home for companies that specialize in UAS testing, maintenance and development, taking advantage of the unmanned aircraft stationed at the base.

In October, county commissioners selected FDSL, a joint venture between FD Stonewater and Lynxs Group, to be the developer because of its financial strength, Schmisek said. The project could potentially cost $260 million to $300 million, which would come from private funds raised by the developer, he said.

But the company realized the UAS tech park might be too big for it to handle.

“As they moved through  this project, they realized this is a larger project than they had originally anticipated and they were good enough to come forward at this time and say, ‘You know, we don’t know if we can complete this for you,’” Schmisek said.

He said he is happy with the change of plans and thought there would still be a groundbreaking for the tech park this year.

“This will probably speed up the process,” he said.

Anna Burleson

Anna Burleson is the higher education reporter for The Grand Forks Herald. She is a 2013 graduate of the University of South Dakota's Mass Communication program and is originally from Watertown, S.D. Contact her with story ideas or tips by phone, email or Twitter, all of which are listed below. Examples of her work can be accessed here.