Editorial: Not getting designation is just a setback

The FAA’s snub of Alpena as a UAS Center of Excellence this week doesn’t have to mean the end of the world.

Yes, it’s disappointing.

No, it isn’t what any of us would have wanted.

Still, it is circumstances like this often times where we can still rise to the top, learn from the experience and get stronger as a result.

In this instance Alpena County commissioners should still work with their airport consultants, state and local economic development folks, Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center officials and research partners in the Center of Excellence application to continue implementation of drone testing capabilities in Alpena.

Yes, the Center of Excellence would have made it easier for potential drone research efforts to take place. However, the lack of designation doesn’t mean Alpena should not still proceed in that direction. The same set of criteria that made Alpena attractive to developers still exist. If we can privately develop a research facility that is as attractive, if not more so for private companies, then we still could become a major player in the drone research and development industry.

Without a doubt the FAA snub was a setback. Certainly FAA designation would have made the process 100 percent easier.

However, this is an industry that is both literally and figuratively “taking off the ground” and demand for quality testing facilities will exceed more than the six selected sites.

Now is the time for Alpena officials to regroup, seek private financing, and develop a state-of-the-art facility that will be highly attractive to researchers in the field.

We can mope and be despondent if we want to, but we believe a better course would be to take control of our destiny ourselves. Continuation of the plan – most of which is already outlined in the FAA application – is the best course in our estimation.