Drones: Redefining the Economic Landscape

Loudoun Unmanned Ecosystem

The uncrewed aerial systems (UAS) industry is trending towards ubiquitous implementation and universal acceptance, positioning it as one the 21st century’s defining technologies. With the world recovery from COVID and its variants, there is an increased demand for autonomy and remote-controlled technology as the workforce returns in various hybrid and full staffed office models. The need for support augmentation has driven a multi-billion boom for the uncrewed system industry. As a business development professional with a military background, I’ve found the following trends of most interest to me.

Increased government and commercial usages

The most precious asset on the combat field is manpower; therefore, using technology to protect life is paramount to governments worldwide. The reliance on autonomy as a force multiplier reduces ground troop casualties, leading to increased government program funding for unmanned systems. Additionally, there has been increased commercial interest in using drones for insurance, construction, agriculture, and maritime. Combining these developments with the drive towards autonomous vehicles, will surely lock the growth of UAS technology that can dominate key economic sectors in most global markets.

New regulations will drive capital investments

According to PwC, the FAA’s 2016 Part 107 was predicted to have a $82-billion impact on the US economy (2016).  The 2021 improvements to the regulation, which includes guidance on night flying and flights over people/vehicles, is anticipated to grow the sector by approximately $64 billion, thought that number is expected to increase in the wake of the current socio-political climate (2022).  The economic drivers will lead to job creation, educational program implementation, and exponential innovation opportunities.  Here in Loudoun, those opportunities can be demonstrated, tested, and shared at Xelevate Solutions, the DC-Metro area’s only drone testing site.

Access to drones will increase as pricing models reduce cost barrier

Entry-level drones are commercially available for between $99 and $499 at most major retailers (2022). When coupled with the relatively slight learning curve for piloting a drone, there are the makings of increased drone presence in homes, communities, businesses, and government.  As a workforce development tool, a person can obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate at the age of 16.  With some training and a certificate, a person could potentially perform drone-based work (inspections, videography, etc.) in approximately 3 to 6 months.

These developments, and the desire to interact with the community, are key drives for our participation in AUVSI Xponential 2022.  We are also key participant in the Virginia Pavilion at the event, in concert with the Virginia Unmanned Systems Center at Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation.  We look forward to interacting with the vendors, attendees, guest speakers, and special guests at this year’s event, hosted by the Association for Uncrewed Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).

Uncrewed systems and the peripheral technology, usages, and ecosystem are a critical part of the current and future economic landscape; Loudoun County will continue to be a major player in this arena.

Feel free to reach out to me at brandon.ferris@loudoun.gov or 703.771.5378.


Thinking of starting or relocating your business in Loudoun County? We are a full-service economic development organization, dedicated to your #LoudounPossible business success. Working with us is like adding a team of no-cost specialists to your team, with expertise in the following areas:

    • Site selection and real estate searches;
    • Workforce development and pipeline support;
    • Process and permit navigation;
    • Fast-track and financial incentives;
    • Marketing and communications outreach;
    • Networking, resource and industry introductions.

Contact Brandon Ferris today to launch your #LoudounPossible journey.