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Skyway36 part of coalition competing for $70M EDA grant

The Osage Nation is working to expand its business interests into the field of Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) research and development

Metropolitan planning organization INCOG has been selected as one of 60 finalists competing for the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) “Build Back Better Regional Challenge.”

According to a Dec. 14 Tulsa World article, INCOG’s Tulsa Regional Advanced Mobility (TRAM) Corridor proposal seeks approximately $70 million to implement four projects geared toward the Advanced Aerial Mobility industry:

  • Establishing a 114-nautical mile flight corridor for commercial drone flight testing that connects assets at Skyway36 and Osage Nation Ranch to OSU-Stillwater’s Flight Station
  • Opening center focused on strengthening Research and Development skills at Oklahoma State University
  • Funding certificate programs, degree programs and apprenticeships to enhance the region’s skilled workforce
  • Renovating the wastewater infrastructure of industrial parks to make sites more “pad-ready”

The coalition behind the INCOG-led proposal includes the city of Tulsa, Tulsa Authority for Economic Opportunity, Osage Nation, City of Tulsa-Rogers County Port Authority, Oklahoma State University, Tulsa Innovation Labs, George Kaiser Family Foundation, Tulsa Airports and Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce.     

According to a presentation by Tulsa Innovation Labs at the January 2022 Build Back Better Partnership meeting, there are many regions investing in the Advanced Aerial Mobility (AAM) industry, but no clear regional hubs have emerged. The Tulsa region is well positioned to develop a “nationally-distinct corridor,” according to Tulsa Innovation Labs, when combining Skyway36’s approximately 2,300 square miles of Class G airspace, Osage Nation Ranch’s 43,000 acres, and OSU-Unmanned Systems Research Institute’s (USRI) approved flight..

The AAM field is a rapidly emerging industry. The National Business Aviation Association defines AAM as “a new concept of air transportation using electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft to move people and cargo between places not currently or easily served by surface transportation or existing aviation modes.” According to Deloitte Insights the AAM industry is expected to reach $115 billion annually by 2035 and generate more than 280,000 high-paying jobs. The “Build Back Better Regional Challenge” is EDA’s marquee American Rescue Plan program. A highly competitive grant, the TRAM Corridor Proposal was selected among 529 applicants. Each of the 60 finalists will receive a grant of about $500,000 to further develop the project proposals. The deadline for Phase 2 is March 15, with those grant recipients to be selected in September.


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Jessica Brent
Jessica Brent is a writer and wanderer living in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She reports locally for Osage News and Tulsa People. When she has a moment, she likes to wander where the grass is tall and the flowers are wild.

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