New Oregon non-profit gives grants to develop drones

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- A new Oregon non-profit organization is capitalizing on the state's recently approved commercial drone test ranges to grow the economy and drone-related jobs.

The Oregon Unmanned Systems Business Enterprise started to solicit proposals on Thursday for matching grants that further unmanned aerial technologies in the state. Based in Bend, the organization is funded for two years with $822,000 in state money.

Projects can help existing drone companies expand, assist companies in winning new contracts, or recruit firms to do testing and establish themselves in Oregon.

Preference will be given to projects that can benefit precision agriculture, search and rescue, and forestry management.

The initiative comes a month after the Federal Aviation Administration announced six drone test sites around the country -- including ranges in Pendleton, Tillamook and Warm Springs.