Sometimes we read so much on certain subjects that the news seems to wash over us.
"Oh, I've heard that before."
And with that, readers move on to another story.
At times we believe Alpena County's efforts at attracting a Center of Excellence for the testing and training of unmanned aircraft vehicles (drones) is like that. There have been lots of words written about local efforts, yet we worry whether area residents fully comprehend the potential impact such a designation would create.
A study released this week helps put things into better perspective. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International released information showing that by 2018, 70,000 new jobs in the United States might be created because of drone research. By 2025, the study reports that number could swell to 100,000.
Mention "drones" and most people think military use.
Certainly that is true, and obviously the convenience of having the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center located near the Alpena County Regional Airport, along with all the military airspace reserved in the skies above Northeast Michigan, makes the military and Alpena County perfect "marriage partners" in the drone effort.
However, military applications are just one component of potential drone use. The commercial applications are numerous and include such things as survey and mapping work, mineral exploration, public safety, agriculture, energy exploration, weather prognostication and research and news and entertainment. And those are just a few of potential ways drones could aid commercial efforts.
All of us in Northeast Michigan need to support Alpena County efforts of developing the region for drone research and development. If successful, it could create a potential economic bonanza for everyone.