BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — A Battle Creek group has received $7 million in the state budget to continue to develop a drone park.
Battle Creek Unlimited, a nonprofit corporation that works to promote economic development in the area, is the group behind the project.
The advanced air mobility park — more colloquially known as a drone park — will be called MICH-AIR, BCU said in a Thursday news release. It will be located at the Battle Creek Executive Airport.
MICH-AIR will be the first of its kind in the state, according to the release.
BCU said it plans to market the drone park as a place to manufacture, operate, maintain and repair drones, as well as conduct training.
The drone park will not be for small recreational drones, according to Joe Sobieralski, president and CEO of BCU. Rather, he said, the park will target large autonomous and remotely-piloted aircraft — technology that is in the early stages of development.
“These could be used for transportation, cargo delivery, border surveillance, spraying crops or firefighting,” Sobieralski said in a statement. “Our goal is for MICH-AIR to be a leader in the emerging sector.”
Sobieralski said MICH-AIR will ultimately create hundreds of jobs.
Preparations for the park have been underway since 2019. BCU said it has spent $3 million already on site preparation, environmental analysis, engineering plans and acquisition of land for an entrance.
The group said it will use the $7 million from the 2024 state budget to upgrade the Battle Creek Executive Airport’s airspace surveillance system, which will prepare it for more drone traffic.