Legislator, Carson City Airport Authority attorney tout drones

Drones are part of a future in which Nevada is poised for “explosive growth,” a state senator said Wednesday, the same day people at a state airports conference heard about drone development possibilities.

State Sen. Mark Hutchinson spoke at a Northern Nevada Development Authority breakfast meeting in Carson City. Steven Tackes, an attorney for the Carson City Airport Authority who is in private practice with Kaempfer Crowell Renshfaw Gronauer & Fiorentino, gave a separate presentation at the Nevada Airports Association 2014 conference in Minden.

Hutchinson, a Las Vegas Republican and a candidate for his party’s nomination for lieutenant governor, said that drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles, could be part of a game-changer period for the state because they are part of what will be a $100 billion industry worldwide. He said Nevada has 31,000 square miles of controlled air space and “all the things necessary for that testing” of drones already approved to be done in the state.

Tackes, focusing on revenue-producing opportunities at rural Nevada airports, also said the testing designation can lead to expansion of ways in which airports work toward economic development. He focused the drone part of his talk on chances for airports to parley drone testing, support, maintenance, crew services and design of manufacture over the long haul.

“This is probably the sweet spot right now,” he said “It’s a hot area; it’s a growing area.”

He also spoke of other traditional and non-traditional “low-hanging fruit” for airport revenue streams outside the usual taxes, fees and fuel sales. Among those were using open space for recreation or agriculture, using buildings for meetings or commerce, parking lots for flea markets or storage and beacon towers for wireless or commercial signs. But the bulk of his talk covered the opportunity drones may provide.

Hutchinson didn’t limit his talk to drones either.

Billed as a talk about family and Nevada, his discussion covered his view that strong families and creating jobs are key to Nevada’s future. He said that along with drones, developing Nevada energy sources that include geothermal is important. But he emphasized that transferring from federally to state-controlled lands the U.S. government owns near cities would also help spur growth for Nevada.

He said it would prove “an engine for Nevada” economic growth if land here weren’t 85 percent under federal control. When Nevada and Nebraska were moving from territorial to state status, he said, Nevada had 90 percent land and Nebraska 30 percent. Today, Hutchinson said, Nebraska federal lands are down to just 1 percent.


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