RICHMOND, VA - Governor Glenn Youngkin today announced that DroneUp, LLC, a leading drone flight services innovator and aviation technology provider, will invest a total of $27.2 million to expand its headquarters in the City of Virginia Beach and establish a testing, training, and R&D center at Richard Bland College in Dinwiddie County. Virginia successfully competed with Arizona, New York, North Carolina, and Texas for the projects, which will create 655 total new jobs.
DroneUp will invest $7 million to expand its headquarters at 160 Newtown Road in Virginia Beach, creating 510 new jobs. The company will also invest $20.2 million to establish a new testing, training, and R&D center for drone operators at Richard Bland College, which will create 145 new jobs.
In addition to the headquarters facility and training center, DroneUp plans to establish three drone hubs at Walmart locations in the Commonwealth this year. DroneUp recently announced a multi-year commercial services agreement with Walmart, Inc. to provide drone delivery services at 34 sites, providing the potential to reach 4 million U.S. households by the end of the year. Walmart has a minority stake in DroneUp and a seat on its board and in turn, DroneUp is the exclusive provider of drone services for Walmart.
“This is an impressive and highly impactful project for Virginia Beach, Dinwiddie County, and beyond that represents a new age of technology for our society, and DroneUp is at the forefront of Unmanned Aircraft System development,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “This homegrown Virginia company is transforming product delivery through its partnership with Walmart, and we are proud to partner with DroneUp as it extends its footprint across the Commonwealth and creates more than 650 cutting-edge jobs. The Commonwealth successfully competed against multiple states for this expansion project and I’m so proud of the multi-pronged effort to attract this investment to Virginia.”
“DroneUp’s expansion in Virginia Beach and new testing, training, and R&D center at Richard Bland College is an exciting step forward for the unmanned systems industry in Virginia and serves as a model for higher education partnerships and economic development,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick. “With the second-highest concentration of tech workers in the nation and world-class education institutions, the Commonwealth is well-positioned to empower DroneUp’s continued success.”
“The team at DroneUp couldn’t be happier with the support we’ve received from Governor Youngkin's office and the Commonwealth of Virginia as a whole over the years,” said Tom Walker, founder and CEO of DroneUp. “Virginia is our home, and we are proud to be able to continue to bring new innovation, talent, and economic opportunities to our great state. This investment and expansion will not only bring new career opportunities to our region, but also allow us to tap into the brightest minds around Unmanned Aircraft System development and design.”
“We are beyond thrilled that DroneUp has decided to make Virginia Beach its corporate headquarters and expand their operations by bringing more than 500 new jobs to our community,” said Virginia Beach Mayor Robert M. “Bobby” Dyer. “Their expansion is the latest shining example in our city’s history of fostering an environment where businesses can thrive.”
“We welcome DroneUp and their training center program to Dinwiddie County,” said Harrison A. Moody, Chairman, Dinwiddie County Board of Supervisors. “The campus of Richard Bland College is the ideal setting for their testing, training, and R&D center, and bringing 145 high-quality jobs to the County presents a phenomenal opportunity for our citizens. DroneUp’s work complements ongoing efforts of Richard Bland College to develop a curriculum for an unmanned aviation program. Drone technology is cutting-edge, and we are proud to be a part of it.”
“Through strategic linkages with partners like DroneUp, Richard Bland College (RBC) continues to assert itself as a new model for higher education in the Commonwealth,” said President Debbie L. Sydow, Ph.D. “RBC and DroneUp share the vision of delivering a world-class drone pilot training program to expand the UAS workforce in Virginia and across the nation. Now the vision is becoming a reality as DroneUp prepares to welcome its first class to the drone testing, training, and R&D center at Richard Bland College.”
“This exciting announcement is a testament to Virginia’s Gateway Region, a top logistics center in the Commonwealth,” said Keith Boswell, President & CEO of Virginia’s Gateway Region Economic Development Organization. “We look forward to the economic impact this project will bring to our seven communities as individuals and companies travel from near and far to hone their skills in drone technology and delivery.”
Tobacco Commission member Senator Joe Morrissey said, “It is wonderful to see an innovative technology company like DroneUp partner with Dinwiddie County and Richard Bland College to bring the future of last mile delivery to our area all while creating 145 new high-quality jobs. Additionally, I am excited to see that DroneUp will work with Richard Bland College to instruct students on the use of drone technology, a field that is only going to continue to grow. This is a big win for Dinwiddie County, and I very much look forward to seeing this project succeed.”
Tobacco Commission member Coley J. Drinkwater said, “This is a great day for Dinwiddie County, and I am excited that DroneUp chose to locate here and create 145 great new jobs that will have a lasting impact on our community. Dinwiddie is the perfect place to live and work and I look forward to welcoming DroneUp as our newest business partner.”
“VIPC's relationship with DroneUp spans several years and multiple pilot programs with our Virginia Unmanned Systems Center and funding opportunities through our Commonwealth Commercialization Fund and Virginia Venture Partners,” said Robert Stolle, President and CEO of the Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation (VIPC). “They are a shining example of Virginia's willingness to welcome and support innovation and job creation.”
“As an emerging industry, unmanned systems has been a priority for the Hampton Roads region for several years. We are proud to have DroneUp as a cornerstone of that industry cluster,” said Doug Smith, President and CEO of the Hampton Roads Alliance. “DroneUp’s investment at their Virginia Beach headquarters is a testament to their innovation and rapid success in a niche market, and their expansion into other locations in Virginia shows potential for even greater future growth. The Alliance extends its sincere congratulations to our friends at DroneUp, the City of Virginia Beach, and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership on this exciting win for the Commonwealth.”
“Virginia Beach is the perfect place for DroneUp to continue leading in one of the world’s fastest-growing industries,” said Representative Elaine Luria. “When I visited DroneUp in May, we discussed how investing in technologies and workforce programs is good for business and good for Coastal Virginia. This expansion is a testament to the thriving workforce in Hampton Roads. I will continue to support businesses like DroneUp that lead in development and innovation and grow and diversify our economy in Hampton Roads.”
“It is an honor and true testament to Virginia’s pro-business climate that DroneUp has decided to invest in our Commonwealth and expand its headquarters in Virginia Beach,” said Senator Jen A. Kiggans. “DroneUp’s expansion will create 510 new jobs and continue to develop this valuable industry right here in Hampton Roads. I look forward to watching their business grow and provide high-quality service to our residents!”
“The 85th District of Virginia Beach is proud to serve as home for DroneUp, a small business gone global,” said Delegate Karen S. Greenhalgh. “Today’s announcement of plans to expand DroneUp’s headquarters, bringing 510 new jobs, is a tremendous investment into our city. Virginia Beach is a great place to live and to work, and we are definitely looking up, thanks to DroneUp!”
“I am thrilled that this innovative technology company has decided to call Virginia its home,” said Representative A. Donald McEachin. “DroneUp’s expansion in our Commonwealth will create hundreds of new jobs in localities across my district, stimulate economic activity, and support other businesses in our communities. Tech is a burgeoning industry, and I look forward to seeing the impact DroneUp will have in Virginia.”
“This is a fantastic opportunity for DroneUp and the folks in Virginia Beach and around Richard Bland College,” said Senator Frank Ruff. “As innovations in the drone world continue to advance, the opportunity for training will also grow.”
“I am thrilled to hear the news of DroneUp investing $20.2 million in our community and bringing 145 jobs to the new training facility at Richard Bland College,” said Delegate Emily M. Brewer. “Innovative partnerships like this demonstrate how creativity in higher education can yield incredible opportunities. This year, it was one of my priorities to facilitate budget language so the General Assembly could reduce regulatory barriers to make this training facility happen. I am also very grateful to Governor Youngkin for championing innovation in higher education and workforce development in our Commonwealth.”
Headquartered in Virginia Beach, Virginia, DroneUp was founded in 2016 by Tom Walker. A privately held company, DroneUp quickly moved from an American small business start-up to a global leader. The company works with more than 20,000 drone pilots to serve its customer portfolio and is dedicated to connecting communities to drone technology globally. DroneUp is recognized as a drone flight services innovation leader, transforming organizations with drone delivery and drone technology solutions. The company develops SaaS platforms with patented mobile application technology available at the Apple App and Google Play Stores. With technology-driven customers, DroneUp inspires the future of drone services, providing intelligent access to airspace, automation innovation, streamlined process management, operational efficiency, and a commitment to safety.
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with the City of Virginia Beach, Dinwiddie County, Richard Bland College, and Virginia’s Gateway Region to secure the project for Virginia. Governor Youngkin approved a $928,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to assist with the project. The Governor also approved $4 million in funds from the Virginia Economic Development Incentive Grant. The Virginia Economic Development Incentive Grant was established as a self-funded program of performance-based incentives that the Commonwealth awards to exceptional economic development projects with large numbers of employees and very high wages relative to average wages for that particular area. The Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission approved a grant for $111,000 from the Tobacco Region Opportunity Fund for the project, and funding and services to support DroneUp’s employee training activities will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.