New drone factory to bring jobs to north Mississippi

CLARKSDALE, MS (WMC) - A new and unique factory will soon call north Mississippi home.

New jobs are set to take flight, according to Bill Blackwelder, the president of Delta Southern UAS. Delta Southern UAS is a company that specializes in drone technology, and it is bringing a factory to Clarksdale.

"This is good for not just Clarksdale and the Delta, this is going to have a trickle effect for the entire state," Blackwelder said.

Blackwelder plans on manufacturing a line of drones in Clarksdale—transforming the old Graber Gas building into a drone factory.

"We will be hiring initially 25 to 50 people for our opening operations, and hope to within three years have somewhere in the neighborhood 200 to 300 employees," Blackwelder said.

The drones will be created to benefit those who work in agriculture, gas and power line inspectors, and even search and rescue missions.

"The drone can give you precise GPS coordinates of those type of emergencies," Blackwelder said.

The drones are controlled by transmitters, but they can only be flown commercially with those who have their FAA 107 pilot's license.

To step in and fill that need, Coahoma Community College will provide special drone education courses for interested students.

"This has been a wonderful opportunity to partner with Delta Southern UAS in the form of providing pre-employment training," said Steven Jossell of Coahoma Community College's workforce center. "Traditionally, if you will, you have to travel north for such jobs such as Tunica or Memphis or the other surrounding areas. But we will be able to pay sustainable premium wages right here in Clarksdale."

The drone facility is set to open in August, with starting salaries at $15-25 an hour.

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