SkySkopes, a nationally leading drone flight operator, is expanding its North Dakota operations and opening an office in Minot, which marks the company’s first location outside of Grand Forks, N.D.
“Minot represents a military friendly community and is the perfect staging location for flight operations in western North Dakota,” SkySkopes President and CEO Matt Dunlevy said.
SkySkopes specializes in the aerial inspection of energy infrastructure that includes equipment used by companies in the state’s oil patch. The new office’s location also will allow SkySkopes to work with local entities on initiatives to further the development of the unmanned aircraft systems industry in the area.
“Between military and commercial uses, there are so many opportunities for SkySkopes in Minot, and even more opportunities for the businesses that hire them,” said Stephanie Hoffart, President and CEO of the Minot Area Development Corporation. “SkySkopes has helped business save up to 70 percent in business costs. This will be huge for Minot businesses and MADC couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of this exciting milestone.”
SkySkopes personnel are ready to begin flying from the Minot office, and Dunlevy anticipates the office growing alongside the Grand Forks headquarters as SkySkopes expands nationally.
“I am very excited to welcome SkySkopes to Minot and to our business community,” Minot Mayor Chuck Barney said. “The opportunities Minot has to offer are unlimited, and I’m honored SkySkopes selected Minot for their first expansion in North Dakota. Minot is the gateway to the Bakken and will afford SkySkopes easy access to transmission lines, pipelines, wind energy and agriculture applications. We offer a great environment for sustaining their continued growth.”
With a rural setting and wide open skies, Minot — nicknamed the Magic City — is considered a prime location for UAS operations.
“Welcoming SkySkopes to our Magic City is a huge achievement for Minot, as they will be the first UAS business to take advantage of our ‘Magic Sky,’” Hoffart said.
Officials with the city of Minot and MADC have put increasing emphasis on developing the industry, including winning a state grant that sent a delegation to the Nordic UAS Conference last month in Oslo, Norway.
Dunlevy was among the trip’s participants as well as staff from Robot Aviation, a Norwegian drone manufacturer that has entered the U.S. market by establishing an office in Grand Forks. Robot Aviation staff noted the company also is looking into a Minot location for reasons similar to SkySkopes.
“The UAS industry is in a rapid growth stage and there will be new skilled and regular job creations within the industry throughout the nation,” said Bjorn Forsdal, president of Robot Aviation’s U.S. operation. “Companies such as SkySkopes and Robot Aviation have the potential to help create or pull such jobs into regions where they feel they are being supported as an industry and as business pioneers.”
SkySkopes was the first North Dakota startup legally approved by the Federal Aviation Administration to fly unmanned aircraft for business purposes and has grown to the scale of national and international operations. SkySkopes employs nearly 20 pilots and flies its large fleet of aircraft for industrial inspection, security purposes, precision agriculture, training certification, and other uses. For more information, visit www.skyskopes.com or follow SkySkopes on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The Minot Area Development Corporation is responsible for facilitating new business attraction, expansion, retention, and advocacy to diversify and strengthen the Minot area. Founded in 1955, MADC is the lead economic development group for the City of Minot. MADC is committed to building and supporting a resilient, sustainable, and diversified economy to ensure Minot is the right location for businesses and families. For more information, visit www.minotusa.com or follow MADC on Facebook.