The Federal Aviation Administration announced on Monday that Nevada will be one of six sites across the country to test drones.
The Governor's Office of Economic Development says they have been working on this initiative for the past two years.
"We think it's going to be a big industry," said GOED Director Steve Hill. "We think it will provide a significant opportunity. It's why we've been working so hard for so long to make this happen."
Hill says he was thrilled after the FAA's announcement. He said he believes this opportunity will help propel the state forward in bringing technology and jobs to Nevada.
"It broadens the job opportunities for Nevadans, broadens the research and development," Hill said. "We thought it was a great fit from Nevada and for Nevada."
Hill said he anticipates the expansion will bring technology-driven companies statewide eventually leading to commercial use.
While he says this will happen in a step-by-step process, FAA would like to start integrating the commercial side by September 2015.
"Twenty-one months from now, vehicles weighing less than 55 pounds will start to be integrated into the national airspace," Hill said.
UNLV has created a minor specifically to study drones. A student in the engineering department constructed a drone specifically for research purposes.
Dr. Stephen Brown, director of UNLV's Center for Business and Economic Research, sees the FAA'S decision Monday as a catalyst for long-term innovation in southern Nevada.
"Starting from a core industry, in this case unmanned aerial vehicles ... then you get other little industries that kind of split off and other opportunities for entrepreneurship," Brown said.
Expanding the use of drones in Nevada has had bipartisan support from Nevada's leaders.
On Monday, U.S. Sen. Harry Reid's office said drone testing could have a $2.5-billion economic impact, bringing thousands of jobs to Nevada and a $125-million tax revenue boost.
The other approved sites from the FAA are the University of Alaska, New York Griffiss International Airport, Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi, Texas, and Virginia Tech University.
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