The Cape May County Airport received a $3 million federal grant Tuesday to expand the region’s unmanned aerial systems industry.
The grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, will be used to build a 20,000-square-foot building within the airport to be used by UAS or drone businesses. Companies in the facility, located in the Rio Grande section of Middle Township, will each be provided with 5,000 square feet of space.
According to a news release, the Commerce Department estimates the project will create 130 jobs and spur $1.9 million in private investment.
“This federal investment is welcomed news in Cape May County, which has been at the forefront of UAS testing and development,” said U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd in a statement. “From maritime and emergency response to applications in the energy and infrastructure inspection sectors, UAS operations in Cape May County conti nue to showcase a strong public-private partnership that benefits all parties.”
LoBiondo is chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee, and he said he worked with county officials to create opportunities to expand the drone industry. Sen. Bob Menedez, D-N.J., also supported the project.
“As someone who went to bat for this project and has long fought to boost federal funding for the Economic Development Administration, I’m proud to see these federal dollars go toward Jersey jobs and advancing our state’s reputation as a hotbed of innovation,” Menendez said in a statement.
The project was supported by the South Jersey Economic Development District, which seeks opportunities to bring together the public and private sectors for regional economic growth.