Some readers might find it comically trite to link the heat inside a warehouse last week to warmer temperatures on the economic front.
Let’s do it anyway.
Inside a sweltering warehouse at the county’s Industrial Park in Dalkeith, local government, education and business officials joined with others to welcome Skyborne Technology, Inc.
The industrial park site is the company’s first manufacturing facility in the United States; Skyborne also has facilities in Central and South America.
“I am as excited, if not more excited, about this project as I am about the Eastern (Shipbuilding dry dock project),” said Warren Yeager, assistant county administrator and director of the county Economic Development Coalition.
“This is a great first step in a long process. (Skyborne’s) technology is cutting edge. It’s a one-of-a-kind industry and it is coming to Gulf County.”
Yeager and the county have been working on connecting the company that became Skyborne and the industrial park for about a year, Yeager said.
In the past two years, the county has taken full ownership from the federal government of the industrial park and sought a stable, growing company for the complex on the north end of the county.
Skyborne has five positions currently in the county, with 10-20 more jobs likely as operations ramp up, said CEO Mike Lawson.
He added that in the long haul the company would create 100 new jobs in the county.
Lawson has also indicated the company is looking for a second site in the county, adding he was not yet in position to make a public announcement.
Additionally, the company will be positioned to take advantage of students at the high school and college levels now being offered, or soon to be offered, courses in the technologies the company deploys.
“We are so excited for Gulf County,” said Board of County Commissioners chair Sandy Quinn, Jr. “It means jobs in Gulf County and we need good jobs.”
Skyborne Technology designs and develops manned, i.e. tethered, and unmanned aviation technology, some with underwater applications.
The company, which has married a variety of technologies through a series of mergers, has two models of what could be considered “mother ships.”
One is a large, spherical object which does not travel fast and is primarily used as a marketer, an advertising vehicle.
The company is also developing a conical-shaped, much larger, craft.
Both large vessels carry drones which are deployed in the air.
Applications include agricultural assessment, assessing power grids and a host of monitoring uses.
Lawson said the company is also working on applications to create a drone which would identify and eliminate “bad drones” which other companies and countries are developing.
A technology the company is developing is used for underwater applications.
And last week, visitors got a peek at The Sentinel, which (way dumbed down) is a mobile and global command center in a suitcase.
The Gulf County facility will be, Lawson said, an “integration” facility, where such components as flight decks, generator decks and composites will be manufactured.