Ohio & Indiana
Drone econ 1

California, Washington, Texas, and Florida might seem like safe bets for states that stand to prosper from an aerospace-related boom, and they are, for various reasons. They're the top-ranking states in the AUVSI analysis (followed by Arizona, Connecticut, Kansas, Virginia, New York, and Pennsylvania). But as mentioned previously, there are still plenty of variables that could shift the national composition of UAS-related jobs, revenues, federal and state investment, and overall economic impacts. And if you're not at the top of the pack where existing aerospace infrastructure is concerned, you can always up your drone economy cred by joining up with the state next door.

That's exactly what Ohio and Indiana have done. Long economically linked by their shared Rust Belt heritages, Ohio and Indiana have combined their bids for an FAA test site. And there's no reason to think this dark horse candidate might not win it. Both are middle-tier aerospace states by most metrics, but together they make a more attractive package. The test site would likely be just outside of Dayton, Ohio, near Wright-Patterson Air Force base, a hub for UAS sensor payload research and development and home to Air Force Research Laboratory, which is exactly what it sounds like. Given that America's armed forces are now training more drone pilots than human fighter pilots, one can easily surmise what kind of research is going on there.

Moreover, if California and Florida are attractive for their year-round mild weather, Ohio and Indiana are attractive for the opposite reason: The weather there can be pretty rough. UAS need to be able to operate reliably in all weather conditions, and an Ohio/Indiana test site could subject them to all four seasons, including that brutal Great Lakes winter sleet/snow/wind/slush that challenges any aircraft, manned or unmanned. This partnership has a solid shot at winning an FAA test site designation, and if it does it could pull a lot of research and development resources into its orbit.

  @FortuneMagazine - Last updated May 13 2013 03:27 PM ET
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