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HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -
Huntsville is officially in the race to become one of six drone testing sites in the country. The final application for the competition has been submitted.
The Rocket City is up against dozens of groups in 35 other states for the chance to become one of six testing sites.
The Federal Aviation Administration will use those sites to determine how drones can be used commercially and how they can co-exist with airliners already in the sky.
Proponents of the effort say Huntsville is a natural fit for the job.
Redstone Arsenal is already the hub for developing and managing unmanned aerial vehicles for the Army.
If Huntsville is selected as a testing site, it will give a major boost to the economy.
Tens of thousands of new jobs would be brought to the area in both North Alabama and Tennessee.
The Rocket City is partnering up with Tennessee as a way to improve the city's chances.
"There is a study out there showing a $16-million impact on our community by bringing a testing center here. We have been testing here for a long time and we have been head of an unmanned vehicle program for the past 10 years, so this is just a continuation of what we already do," said Mayor Tommy Battle.
The FAA will not pay for drone testing at these sites.
The sites must come up with the money needed themselves, but UAH said funding is not a problem. Established organizations with infrastructure already in place have been chosen as a part of the bid to be selected as a site.