County Approves $100K Drone Facility Grant

SALISBURY – Officials in Wicomico County this week voted to accept a $100,000 grant for a new drone facility at the Salisbury airport.

On Tuesday, the Wicomico County Council unanimously agreed to amend the fiscal years 2020-2024 Capital Budget to add a new drone facility project at the Salisbury airport and to accept $100,000 in grant funds from the Maryland Department of Commerce.

Last month, Airport Manager Dawn Veatch came before the council in a work session to request an amendment to the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) in the amount of $100,000 to accept an Economic Development Assistance Fund Grant from the state department.

The money will be used to construct a new Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Center for Innovation at the airport.

“In the CIP for FY 2019, we made the assumption that we had sufficient funding to finalize this project, but it was determined that we needed additional funding,” Veatch wrote in a memo. “The State awarded the County $100,000 in FY 2020 with no matching requirement. This amount should be sufficient to finish the UAS Center for Innovation in its entirety, with the previous funding already received.”

Assistant Director of Administration Weston Young told the council last month he expects the project to benefit the local economy.

“I think amending the current FY 2020-2024 CIP is the way to go,” Young said. “We’re grateful that the state has looked upon this project positively from an economic development standpoint.”

With no public comments at a hearing scheduled this week, the council voted 7-0 to accept the grant funding and amend the CIP for fiscal years 2020-2024.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.