Central North American Trade Corridor

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  • 29 Sep 2017 2:58 PM | Central North American Trade Corridor Association CNATCA (Administrator)

    Nestled in the Canadian prairies, Saskatchewan is blessed with natural resources. Saskatchewan’s pioneers were the first to discover this great potential. Today, the province exports about 70% of what it produces to countries around the world.  When your economy depends on trade, you need effective solutions to move products to markets. That is what the Government was thinking when it created the Global Transportation Hub (GTH).
    Continuing Saskatchewan’s proud tradition of ground-breaking trade, the GTH is a logistics hub for the 21st Century. Landlocked from the oceans ports, the GTH operates as an inland port that brings rail and highway transportation solutions together in one location. 
    Specifically designed for organizations in warehousing, distribution, transportation and logistics, as well as light processing and manufacturing, the GTH sells or leases land for these permitted uses. “We took time to listen to the industry and its users. Everything from the property design, roadways, zoning and bylaws has been crafted to help our clients reach domestic and international markets.” 
    The GTH is responsible for the development, maintenance and regulation of the 1,800-acre footprint. Much like a municipality, the GTH is responsible for all aspects of the footprint, from community planning to enforcement.  The GTH is a self-regulating facility – an independent operating entity with its own bylaws and governing structure. Companies exploring development at the GTH deal with a single entity focused on delivering a streamlined, cost-efficient process without multiple layers of government. “We can streamline processes to help clients move quickly through activities such as development plans and permitting,” explains Rhonda Ekstrom, VP Business Development. “This efficiency drives a higher return on investment while guaranteeing that investors are dealing directly with the final decision makers.”
    The GTH is Saskatchewan’s only designated Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ), an important advantage for manufacturers interested in the North American market. International companies can access Canada’s duty and tax relief programs by shipping goods to an FTZ, deferring duties and taxes and persevering cash flow until those goods are shipped to market. 
    With CP Rail and Loblaw as its initial cornerstone tenants, the GTH is building a community where freight intensive industries can find natural synergies like sharing containers, transportation and service providers that ensure the smooth movement of goods. Currently, other clients at the GTH include Fastfrate, Emterra Group, SLGA, Morguard, Future Transfer, Slinkemo, Sterling Truck and Trailer, SaskPower and Brightenview Developments. 
    Ekstrom points out each new investment at the GTH has a positive impact for the province. “Each client creates new jobs and stimulates further economic activity.” Currently, more than 860 full-time jobs exist on site (not including hundreds more involved in the construction of the hub and its clients) and that number will continue to rise as the GTH grows. Additionally, the GTH boasts about $485 million in private investment. The GTH is proud to be part of helping the province diversify and grow. 

  • 29 Sep 2017 1:50 PM | Central North American Trade Corridor Association CNATCA (Administrator)
    "The purpose of the summit is to promote a safer Highway 52 and potentially four-laning or twinning the highway. As businesses, community leaders, and individuals who use this highway, we thought you would be interested in attending. This is an all inclusive meeting in Kenmare to bring Canada and North Dakota together to further discuss plans and options regarding the two highways.


    Esteemed invitees are Governor Doug Burgum and Lt. Governor Brent Sanford. ND DOT Director Thomas Sorel and Saskatchewan Minister of Highways and Infrastructure David Merit plan to attend."


    Promotional Flyer

    HWY 52-Provincial 39 Summit.pdf

    Summit Agenda

    HWY 52-Provincial 39 Agenda.pdf
  • 15 Sep 2017 2:47 PM | Central North American Trade Corridor Association CNATCA (Administrator)

    Investments Have Now Been Made into The U.S. Rural Business Investment Company

    In May of 2014, The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced formation of a new investment fund for assisting development and growth of small business across rural America. Rural America’s population has grown at the fastest rate of any demographic sector within the nation, hence the need for strategic investments. In its announcement, USDA indicated that it stands ready to help rural communities create jobs and continue to be a place where people want to raise their families, noting that “community-level investments are most successful when partnering with folks [that are] already embedded in the local fabric”!

    The Rural Business Investment Company fund was formed under the USDA’s Rural Business Investment Program and licenses funds to invest in enterprises that create economic growth and job opportunities in rural areas. It places a specific emphasis on applications from smaller enterprises. In many instances, agriculture, energy, health care, and infrastructure related businesses will qualify for such assistance and will be able to access core private equity investment via a structured application process.

    The USDA program enables licensed funds to raise equity capital from Farm Credit System banks, private equity investment firms, agricultural cooperatives, and other associations serving rural areas. The funds must demonstrate that they possess venture capital experience and have also worked successfully in the past with community-based economic development organizations.

    To date, the following investments in this new program have been announced:

    • Advantage Capital Partners ($150,000,000 in available revenue) will manage investments in innovative agriculture-related business that support USDA’s strategy for economic growth, including bio-manufacturing, local and regional food systems, advanced farming technologies, and other cutting-edge initiatives. The participating Farm Credit institutions include AgStar Financial Services (Mankato, MN), AgriBank (St. Paul, MN), Capital Farm Credit (Bryan, TX), CoBank (Denver, CO), Farm Credit Services of America (Omaha, Neb), Farm Credit Mid-America ((Louisville, KY), and United Farm Credit Service (Willmar, MN)].
    • McLarty Capital Partners ($100,000,000 in available revenue) will provide flexible financing solutions to small and medium sized rural enterprises who need the funds to achieve strategic business goals.
    • Innova Ag Innovation  Fund IVLP ($31,000,000 in available revenue) will source funds for small and medium sized rural and agricultural entities whose focus is on rural economic development.
    • Meritus Kirchner Ventures ($100,000,000 in available revenue) will source private equity funds to provide grants and loans to manufacturing, agricultural, health care, and energy enterprises that create jobs in rural America.
    • Open Prairie Rural Opportunities Fund is a private equity entity with $100,000,000 in available funds that will source grants and loans to small food enterprises and agricultural industries of small to medium size that are operating within rural areas of the U.S.

    The types of activities supported by these equity funds include business development, venture capital pursuit, attracting other private-sector capital, core product enhancement, marketing, and export market assistance These equity and grant development activities are part of the Made in Rural America initiative launched by the USDA in 2008. Its goal is to help rural businesses and leaders avail themselves of new investment opportunities and thereby also access new markets abroad. Readers can access more information about these economic development activities by accessing individual websites (typically formatted as www.name of entity.com) for each of the firms identified above, and by visiting www.rd.usda.gov. .

    Funding Available for Technical Education Capacity Building

    The National Science Foundation recently announced an Advanced Technology Education Grant Program that will fund institutional capacity to deliver cutting-edge technical education programs. Specific parameters must be met to qualify, however rural areas housing disadvantaged populations are specifically targeted. More details are available at www.nsf.gov. Follow the link “new program announcements” and key in ATE Programs in the “search” box located in the upper right-hand corner of the emerging web page. Program detail will follow.

    Funding Available for Economic Development Within Coal Communities

    The U.S. Economic Development Administration announced on 06/17/17 that new funding is available for organizations targeting rural economic development within communities impacted by the changing face of coal use. There is no pre-determined list of impacted communities, so presumably North Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming communities could qualify for funding upon submission of a suitable proposal. More details are available at www.eda.gov. The new program is highlighted on the first page to pop up within the website.   


  • 06 Sep 2017 12:00 PM | Central North American Trade Corridor Association CNATCA (Administrator)

    Greetings from the Central North American Trade Corridor Association (CNATCA), and thank you for taking time to read our newsletter and visit our website!  If ever there was a big, huge, glorious idea, creating the Central North American Trade Corridor is one.  I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as Chair of CNATCA and join with a dedicated and diverse board of directors to advance this important vision.  It is my hope that by reinvigorating the CNATCA newsletter, we can communicate the issues and needs of the rural communities in the corridor from Canada, through the United States, into Mexico and beyond.  An efficient transportation corridor through the heartland is an essential requirement for economic advancement.  Its absence is an invisible throttle on opportunities that enable people to live and thrive in the small communities they call home or attract new residents.  But there are many steps ahead of us to move the corridor from our hearts and minds into reality. 

    This project is huge in many dimensions, and the process is going to take a lot of dedicated people.  People like Larry White, who graciously agreed to provide his profile for this edition.  We will feature more profiles of the people in CNATCA so you can see the talent and expertise we have assembled.  This project is eventually going to require action and support from corporations and governments, large and small, but we must never forget that our focus is on the people of the corridor.  Larry is an excellent example of the dedicated professionals that are uniquely created by and positioned in the corridor. 

    CNATCA is planning to be a facilitator of dialogue and action on a number of fronts as we maintain our focus on promoting sustainable communities throughout the corridor.  We have formed a Tourism Committee that seeks to enhance collaboration with that important economic sector.  We are planning a symposium in spring of 2018 to focus on the intricacies of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and how communities in the corridor can benefit.  We continue to maintain our engagement with the development of new technologies in transportation, including unmanned autonomous vehicles, drones, and freight.  We are also keeping track of advancements in manufacturing and robotics and their impact on the work force.  All of these issues are present and impactful in the Central North American Trade Corridor.

     I’d like to encourage you to join our ranks.  We need your support and membership to build our coalition across three countries.  At the same time, we need your talent and energy as we address the shifting sands of politics, technology, and economic opportunities.  Become a member today and let’s get to work on building this corridor!


    -Ron Hall

    US Director: Chairman


  • 30 Aug 2017 12:30 PM | Central North American Trade Corridor Association CNATCA (Administrator)

    Weyburn Regional Economic Development and Williston Economic Development share more than a similar acronym, they are driven by the same key industries - being agriculture, oil and gas and light manufacturing.  Both communities mirror the same historic past as well as current cultural diversity.  Being that they are only 200 km apart, they also share the same geographical elements such as climate and recreational opportunities. They are also both located within the Central North American Trade Corridor, separated by an international border.

     

    In part, due to these similarities, the cities of Weyburn Saskatchewan and Williston North Dakota have entered an informal “Sister City” relationship to promote economic development, tourism, educational, cultural and friendship exchanges between cities.  This relationship will provide both communities with a better understanding of their own community and will facilitate the freedom of exchange of ideas, knowledge and experiences.  

     

    On August 31, representatives from Weyburn Regional Economic Development, City of Weyburn and Southeast College will be attending the 2017 Williston Economic Summit.  Representatives from the City of Weyburn look forward to the valuable networking and learning opportunities associated with this important event.

     

    Looking into the future, both cities are planning for continued opportunities to learn from each other and well as opportunities to develop strategic partnerships.  Growth and prosperity is a common goal for both communities and collaborating in this unique way will be a key component to success in reaching this goal.

     

    Submitted by:  Twila Walkeden, Executive Director, Weyburn Regional Economic Development Inc.

     


  • 28 Aug 2017 3:29 PM | Central North American Trade Corridor Association CNATCA (Administrator)


    How long have you been involved with CNATCA?

    I became involved in CNATCA in 2014. I have been involved in helping with the events and have enjoyed working with the forward-thinking group that is involved in the organization.

    Tell us a bit about your personal background.  Where were you raised?  Education, Family, Career?

    I was raised in southwestern North Dakota, 60 miles straight south of where President Roosevelt ranched in North Dakota at Bowman. The White family homesteaded that part of North Dakota in 1906 and have farmed and ranched there since.  

    My dad, Dale, was a farmer and rancher until his death in 1990, and my mother, JoAnn, was a registered nurse until the loss of her eyesight forced her to quit.

    I was educated at Amor country school, Bowman High School and North Dakota State University. While at NDSU I was an honor student and received the outstanding senior award in the college of Agriculture my senior year.

    I returned to Bowman County to farm and ranch after graduation just as my family always had done. I ranched until 2000, then started a new career working at Paulson Seed, a specialty crop processor in Bowman. I worked my way to marketing manager, and the company exported to about 23 countries while I worked there. I was involved in the first US–Cuban Food and Agribusiness Exhibition in Havana, Cuba in September of 2002. The North Dakota delegation got to meet and personally dine with Fidel Castro. That was the first of my four trips to Cuba to sell peas to Alimport.

    In the fall of 2004, I was offered a job with the North Dakota Dry Pea and Lentil Association as their Marketing Director. Not long after I took the job, the organization merged with Montana and formed the Northern Pulse Growers Association as it is today.

    In the spring of 2007, the North Dakota Trade Office offered me a job as the International Agribusiness Manager, and I had the privilege to travel the world and represent North Dakota companies.

    In July of 2015, I resigned and started LL-International LLC as a private consultant and have continued to find markets for North Dakota products.

    In 2017, Les Paulson and I built a small oilseed crushing plant in Bowman, ND and named it Pulse Oils LLC. We are currently crushing safflower oil, and our product line will be called 17 THISTLES.

    I have been married to my wife, Kathryn, for 37 years. We’re blessed with two children—my son, John, and daughter, Laura.

    Describe your current projects that you are excited about and how they relate to CNATCA.

    My recent work in China has opened my eyes to why infrastructure development must never stop. In the last year, the Chinese have added 80,000km of four-lane roads and 20,000km of high-speed train rail with one goal in mind—to move product more easily. They are also looking at building a road to Europe and one to Bangladesh. As we look at renegotiating the NAFTA trade agreement, the Chinese are positioning themselves to be the leader in trade and development. They are building as we sit and watch and wonder why we cannot find the urgency to go forward in the United States.

    I am working in Mongolia and China as a consultant in beef development and meat imports to China. They are looking to build up the supply of high quality beef in China. The Chinese have built over a thousand slaughterhouses in the last ten years. They are looking to the future needs to sustain 1.5 billion people.

    I also am doing an Emerging Market Program for the USDA in Romania and the Ukraine. The program is an assessment on the need for better genetics in forage and beef production.

    I think producers along the CNATCA corridor can benefit in supplying beef and genetics to China. The meat imports have already started and the live-animal imports will soon follow.

    How can CNATCA support the sustainability of rural communities in your area?

    CNATCA’s goal has to be to help smaller communities and small businesses in rural areas compete in the world trade through more efficient and timely logistics. I also think the networking among members is beneficial to anyone who is looking to export or move product along the corridor.

    CNACTA has a very ambitious agenda, to be the conduit that brings trade, development and commerce to the Central North American Trade Corridor.  To accomplish that mission, what do you think CNATCA should be focused on over the next five years?

    Immediate attention should be on drafting a fair and free NAFTA trade bill that is fair to all three countries without starting a trade war and new tariffs and extra paperwork. Let’s make the corridor autonomous and with a high-speed rail that will be the focal point of future infrastructure development.


  • 26 Aug 2017 12:00 PM | Central North American Trade Corridor Association CNATCA (Administrator)

    The City of Weyburn is a dynamic community that has both a strong and diverse economic base.

    Weyburn has long been established as a central figure for the upstream oil industry in Saskatchewan. Weyburn sits geographically atop the Bakken Oil Formation, one of the most prolific oil producing patches in the world.  Not surprising that you will find corporations such as Cenovus Energy, Crescent Point Energy and Enerplus calling our community home in terms of headquarter locations. 

    Agriculture continues to be the back bone of the community.  As the world looks to farmers to meet an ever increasing need for food supply, Weyburn’s position as one the of the largest inland grain gathering points in North America makes it a vital contributor to a global challenge.   Agri-business, agri-food companies and major farm implement dealers continue to thrive and expand into our community.   

    As the central community in Southeast Saskatchewan, Weyburn is the preferred locale for the public sector and professional regional head offices, contributing an enduring inventory of stable employment opportunities. Among the several key professional and public sector regional headquarters in Weyburn include: Sun Country Health Region, Southeast Cornerstone School Division, Southeast College Administrative Offices, and SaskPower Regional Distribution Center.  

    Convenient access to Weyburn is never a problem, not with three major highways crossing the city.  Highway 13, stretching from Lethbridge Alberta to Winnipeg Manitoba, is named the Red Coat Trail.  Much of its length follows the route of the original historic path taken in 1874 by the North-West Mounted Police in their quest to bring law and order to the Canadian West.  Highway 39 is one of Canada’s busiest highways and provides a major trucking and tourism route between the United States and Western Canada.  Lastly, Highway 35 (the Canam Highway) connects the US border to vast untouched lakes and rivers in Northern Saskatchewan, popular to nature seekers, hunters and anglers.  

    Weyburn’s proximity to Regina offers access to a wide range of support and services. Whether moving goods, services or people Weyburn companies enjoy access to an extensive transportation network with global reach. Weyburn is located only an hour from The Global Transportation Hub (GTH), which is Canada’s only autonomous and self-governing Inland Port Authority. The GTH provides rail access to all major Canadian ports, Gulf Coast ports and mid-western US trans-shipment points and trucking connections to all major networks. The ability to efficiently move goods makes Weyburn the ideal location for several major manufacturing firms.

    Weyburn is well defined by being a safe, friendly, healthy balanced lifestyle. A close-knit neighbourhood community with low crime rates, and economic strength makes Weyburn a great place for a family to live. In June of 2017 MoneySense Magazine named Weyburn as the best place to live on the Prairies and was the 5th best place to live overall in Canada.  This rating is due in part to our affordable housing, low rate of crime and low unemployment rate. In 2016 Expedia named Weyburn at 11th place on the ‘Friendliest Communities (and Towns) in Canada list.’  More evidence that Weyburn is a great place to live, do business in and visit.   Residents and visitors alike enjoy beautiful rural surroundings including lakes, parks, and connection to the agricultural lifestyle.

    Weyburn’s stable economic base, its transportation accessibility and its attractive labour force are why businesses are attracted to our community. While enjoying the luxuries of small city life, Weyburn’s central location in the Southeast maintains easy access to the convenience and services of larger centers.

    For more information on what Weyburn has to offer please visit our website at www.weyburneconomicdevelopment.com.  You can also find up to date statistics on our community at www.townfolio.co.   


  • 09 Jun 2017 10:00 AM | Central North American Trade Corridor Association CNATCA (Administrator)

    U.S. Department of Transportation, Briefing Room

    With workers, industry and policy leaders on hand for closing event of Infrastructure Week, administration outlines vision for improving America’s roads, railways, and other infrastructure projects. 

    WASHINGTON – Surrounded by hundreds of infrastructure workers and stakeholders, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao joined President Donald J. Trump in the closing event of ‘Infrastructure Week’ at Department Headquarters in Washington. Secretary Chao announced the Department has published a federal register notice seeking public input in order to identify and reduce unnecessary regulatory obstacles that too often stand in the way of completing important infrastructure projects across the nation.

     “We are so fortunate because this President is a builder, he understands the challenges facing our country's infrastructure better than any national leader in recent memory,” said Secretary Chao. “The Department has published a notice in the Federal Register soliciting comments from the public and all stakeholders on ways to improve government permitting; if you have any ideas, we want to hear from you!”

    “The current process takes far too long,” said Secretary Chao. “Today, and all week, we have heard many recommendations from governors, mayors and other state officials who actually build things. A special DOT Task Force has already acted on what we’ve been hearing and identified dozens of ways to streamline the process.”

    U.S. Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary Jeff Rosen chairs the Department’s Regulatory Reform Task Force, formed earlier this year in accordance with President Trump’s Executive Order 13777, which directs each agency to establish an RRTF to make recommendations to alleviate unnecessary regulatory burdens. 

    “This is part of a greater focus by the Administration to remain responsive to the needs of the public and industry, rather than pushing a ‘top down, government knows best’ approach to regulation,” said Deputy Secretary Rosen. “We expect this process will help us uncover ways to assist in better deploying infrastructure - ways we hadn’t even thought of.”

    DOT is requesting input because public and private project sponsors, engineering and construction professionals, related industry organizations, and other transportation stakeholders are likely to have valuable direct experience with the Department’s requirements. That experience supplements the Department’s employees’ expertise and may help identify when a requirement has become an unnecessary obstacle.

    The comment period will be open for 45 days at this link.  All comments will be available in the public docket and available for public review. The Department has made engaging the public, especially affected stakeholders, a top priority. 

    ###

  • 05 Jun 2017 10:00 AM | Central North American Trade Corridor Association CNATCA (Administrator)

    Office of Governor, State of North Dakota

    Monday, June 5, 2017 - 3:00pm

    BISMARCK, N.D.  – Gov. Doug Burgum has accepted an invitation from the White House to meet Thursday with President Trump, senior administration officials, fellow governors, mayors and other stakeholders on ways to improve the nation’s infrastructure through partnerships.

    The invitation came after Burgum spent time with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao during Wednesday’s Drone Focus Conference in Fargo, including a one-on-one discussion about how federal investment in transportation infrastructure can have a greater economic impact locally. Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford will join Burgum for the June 8 meeting at the White House.

    “This is a tremendous opportunity to advocate for North Dakota priorities and highlight our transportation, energy and infrastructure issues to the highest office in the land,” Burgum said. “We are deeply grateful for the chance to help shape the national dialogue and make an impact with key decision makers on issues critical to our economic health at the local, state and national levels.”

    Because of the meeting’s timing, Burgum will be unable to attend Thursday’s Innovative Education Summit at Legacy High School in Bismarck, which will feature several national speakers and hundreds of participants from across the state.

    “The educators and community leaders participating in the summit have my highest respect and confidence,” Burgum said. “Their dedication to our students is evidenced by the more than 500 slated to attend. We all want to help students compete and succeed in the 21st century economy, and our shared interest in transforming our education system means this will be the first of many opportunities to engage on this important topic.”

    The summit is free and registration is still open. Links to registration information and a list of speaker bios are available at https://www.governor.nd.gov/

     

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  • 31 May 2017 10:00 AM | Central North American Trade Corridor Association CNATCA (Administrator)

    U.S. Department of Transportation

    Drone Focus Conference

    Remarks Prepared for Delivery by
    U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao
    Drone Focus Conference
    Fargo, North Dakota
    Wednesday, May 31, 2017

    Thank you, Sen. Hoeven, for that gracious introduction, and for inviting me to the second annual Drone Focus conference—an invitation I was delighted to accept.  I am so glad to be in your state after hearing so much about it from you and Mikey [Mrs. Mical Hoeven]!  My husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and I treasure our friendship with you and Mikey.

    Let me also recognize Governor Burgum, who is here today as well.  And let me note that today is also the very first National Autonomous Vehicles Day.

    North Dakota has been building its drone friendly reputation for some time.  In 2013 the Grand Forks Airbase became a drones-only facility.  Drone pilots stationed at the base have flown reconnaissance missions around the world, as well as border patrol missions along the US-Canadian and, at times, the US-Mexican border.

    The base is also home to GrandSky, which uses the uncluttered skies of North Dakota to conduct Beyond Visual Line of Sight tests of larger unmanned aerial vehicles.

    The Center for UAS Research at the University of North Dakota is also making a name for itself in this fast-paced industry.  The Department is working with the University of North Dakota, and many other state and local partners, to develop a sound strategy that will help the emerging UAS industry grow and innovate, while maintaining the safety and security the public deserves.

    As you may know, this Administration recently announced its FY 2018 budget, which includes a proposal to begin a multi-year effort to modernize our country’s air traffic control system.  Currently, the aviation industry is experiencing a rapid evolution of technology and a significant increase of volume at the same time. More people than ever before are traveling by air, making the airspace more complex and congested every day.

    By 2020, it is estimated that our airspace will have to support one billion passengers each year.  And air freight is expected to more than double over the next three decades. Without change, our current system will not be able to keep pace with those numbers.  Already, congestion is taking its toll on the current system.  It takes 20 percent more time to fly between certain cities today than it did 25 years ago. Our National Air space System must be able to accommodate these growing demands, or run the risk of falling behind the rest of the world in terms of efficiency and safety.

    This Administration’s proposal would separate the operation of our country’s air traffic control system from the safety oversight functions of the FAA.  Air traffic control operations would be split off as an independent, non-profit cooperative, while the FAA and its safety oversight functions would remain at the Department of Transportation.  A key goal is to increase the capacity of our national airspace with the latest technology, so it can accommodate the expected increase in traffic as well as new entrants like drones.

    Smart new transportation technology needs smart infrastructure.  And we need the smartest infrastructure possible to allow manned and unmanned aircraft and vehicles to safely share airspace and roads.  The line between aerospace and terrestrial transportation technology is beginning to blur. So it makes sense to ensure that our infrastructure can accommodate these developments. This means an appropriate regulatory framework that can keep pace with rapidly changing technology.

    That is why the Administration is working collaboratively to resolve some of the unique policy and legal issues involved in safely integrating drones into our airspace.

    A key issue in regulating drones is security.  How can we defend these systems from hackers?  And what can be done to thwart terrorist attempts to use this technology? 

    Law enforcement and security authorities need to be able to determine whether drones are operating legally.  But how much information is needed? And how can agencies get the information they need without violating the rights of the drone operator?  And how should authorities mitigate a drone threat without putting people or property on the ground in jeopardy?

    These are difficult technical and legal issues.  

    There is also the question of airspace.  Legally, the FAA has regulatory primacy over all U.S. airspace.  How do we manage the issue of drones flown at low-altitudes, far from airports or federal facilities?  How much authority should local municipalities or county governments have over drone operations?  And what about drones operating beyond the operator’s line of sight?  The Department has launched an initiative to start answering these questions about airspace.

    Recently, the FAA published more than 130 UAS facility maps to help streamline authorizations in the airspace around some of our busiest airports. These maps will help the industry and the FAA work together to streamline what has been a labor intensive and sometimes frustrating process. The maps help drone operators improve the quality of the information they submit to the FAA, and help the FAA to process airspace requests more quickly. 

    Now, to be clear, the maps are informational. They do not give permission to fly drones. Operators, will still need to submit an online airspace authorization application. But the maps are an important step in making it easier and more routine to conduct “over the horizon” or “beyond line of sight” UAS operations.

    More maps will be released in the coming months to support the development of a low-altitude authorization system. Working with private sector companies, the FAA is developing requirements to exchange data with third parties that will enable real-time authorization for drone operations in controlled airspace. This collaboration is laying the foundation for a future UAS traffic management system that relies on cooperative interaction between drone operators. 

    The FAA is also crafting a pilot program designed to let local communities try different regulatory concepts for controlling drone activity. This will generate data and best practices that the Department can use to help ensure the safety of people and property on the ground and in the air.

    For example, the FAA is working with a consortium of leading UAS research institutions, as well as industry and government partners, on a series of studies that will help inform the parameters for safe drone flights over people.

    Safety and security are Department priorities, so the FAA is also studying technologies that can be used for drone detection around airports.  And the FAA recently hosted an Unmanned Aircraft Security roundtable to discuss challenges and solutions regarding this technology with key stakeholders. Communication and collaboration among all stakeholders is extremely important in addressing legitimate security and safety concerns.  That’s why the FAA has also established the Drone Advisory Committee, which is helping to identify solutions to advancing UAS integration. 

    The FAA has also formed a new Aviation Rulemaking Committee, which will convene this summer to recommend technologies for remotely identifying and tracking unmanned aircraft during operations. The recommendations produced will help pave the way for increasingly complex drone flights, such as those over people and beyond visual line of sight operations. 

    Please contact Michael Britt, my Senior Advisor for ATO Modernization, for more information on the expansion of UAS operations in the National Airspace System.  We invite your input and feedback.   You may also contact Earl Lawrence, the Director of the FAA’s UAS Integration Office, or email UAS-ID@faa.gov.

    Finally, let me note that emerging technology requires a regulatory approach that ensures safety, while encouraging innovation and preserving creativity.  This last point is especially important.  Creativity and innovation are part of the great genius of America—one of its hallmarks.  We must safeguard and nurture this legacy.  But it is also critical that Silicon Valley and other innovators step up and share with the public their understanding of new technology, and address legitimate public concerns about safety and privacy.

    The integration of drones into our national airspace will be the biggest technological challenge to aviation since the beginning of the Jet Age.  Drones are already used by our military, by law enforcement to patrol our borders or conduct searches and in photography, film making, precision agriculture surveying, precision agriculture for crop dusting, new media gathering, infrastructure inspections and much more.

    Our job is to prepare the way for this new technology, so it can be deployed safely and usher in a new era aviation service, accessibility and ingenuity.

    So thank you for inviting me here today. And thank you for everything you are doing to help enable this exciting new technology.

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