Washington’s Thriving Economy
The state of Washington is due for an economic boom. From a growing agriculture industry to the latest advancements in aerospace technology, this state is an economical powerhouse. In late 2013 Washington was voted by Bloomberg as the most innovative state in the United States. Many major companies in Washington have made significant breakthroughs in creating the latest developments in a multitude of industries. Even though Washington has a strong economy and a 5 year record low unemployment rate of 6.6 percent, Governor Jay Inslee is deciding to raise minimum wage to help thousands of Washingtonians thrive in this growing state.
Washington has a reputation for their engineering prowess in avionics and in 2012 alone this industry generated $76 billion in the state of Washington. In recent news there has been an exciting announcement in the aircraft industry that will bring in tens of thousands of jobs to the state. Through the cooperation and passing of important legislation, major aircraft manufacturers are given hefty tax incentives to stay in Washington. Interestingly enough as these large-scale manufacturers continue to grow there are reports that smaller aviation businesses are struggling due to increased federal regulations. To become a pilot for a small business it has become a challenging mess of red tape which deters many from getting their licenses while older pilots are now unable to renew.
Although business for this type of small aviation has plummeted there is another category of small aviation that is sky rocketing across the nation: UAVs. Unmanned aerial vehicles are beginning to be utilized for much more than just military purposes. The UAV industry is constantly evolving as the utilization of these devices expands into more industrial sectors. The Federal Aviation Administration is responding to the increased popularity of UAVs and has mandated that all UAVs must weigh less than 55 pounds. This reform has resulted in many manufacturing to re-design their UAVs to be compatible with this newer era of UAVs for commercial use. Currently commercial drones are heavily regulated and cannot be used freely by certain individuals. For example, journalists are not allowed to use UAV technology to gather information under the current FAA regulations. However it is estimated that in June 2016 will be legal for commercial use.
These developments in UAVs are two-fold for Washington. Washington is already home of many UAV manufacturers but these newer UAVs are also beneficial for many farmers in Washington. The agriculture industry generates approximately $49 billion and accounts for nearly 13% of the state’s economy. UAVs will allow farmers to collect data on their fields through energy efficient means and will result in more effective farming techniques. Unfortunately these farmers must wait for the FAA to announce the newer rulings for UAVs for non-recreational use. The FAA expects there will be 7,500 of these aircrafts hovering over the United States in five years and potentially 20,000 to 30,000 in 20 years. UAV manufacturing has already emerged as a multi-billion dollar industry for the state of Washington and this sector will only continue to boom as these drones become more popular.