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Trade Technology Expo ends, focus turns to drones

The United States Air, Trade and Technology Expo is now a thing of the past, and the corporation established to plan future editions of the event will now turn its focus to supporting regional efforts in the field of unmanned aerial systems.

The trustees of the United States Air, Trade, and Technology Expo Inc. (USATTE) have voted to dissolve the USATTE Corp. to avoid diluting support for the Ohio UAS Conference, board Chairman Kent Owsley said in a prepared statement released Wednesday night.

The intended biannual trade and technology show, held for the first time in 2009, was staged at the Dayton International Airport's Expo Center hall. The four-day event drew 1,400 attendees and more than 70 companies. Aerospace representatives, Air Force officers and NASA authorities were among those who headlined the conference.

The event was canceled in 2011 because of economic conditions.

Owsley, in July 2012, told the Dayton Daily News that organizers had't committed to another show. The five-member board expected to reach a decision by September of that year.

"We want to make sure we have a very compelling conference and expo people would want to participate," he said in 2012. "You have to have something to make it a unique value to make people want to spend money in this environment."

There was talk of the expo returning in 2013 to tap the market for the growing number of unmanned aerial vehicles.

At Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, UAV research, development, testing and acquisition is a high priority for the use of drones in the Air Force fleet, the Dayton Daily News reported in 2012.

In January, Sinclair Community College's Unmanned Aerial Systems program said a forecast at the Ohio Farm and Food Leadership Forum estimated that some 80 percent of UAS usage in the United States will be related to "precision agriculture" over the next several years.

The Federal Aviation Administration in December did not select Ohio and Indiana as a region for testing the use of drones. Dayton-area leaders have said the area, with its proximity to Wright-Patterson, will continue to be a leader in UAS development.

In the statement released Wednesday night, Owsley said, "During the course of planning for the next event, the focus of local economic development and trade organizations began to focus specifically on the potential economic benefits of the growing field of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) [sic]. This focus included the establishment of the Ohio UAS Conference hosted in Dayton."

The Ohio UAS Conference was held last April in downtown Dayton. The three-day event featuring speakers, panel sessions and exhibitors drew nearly 600 attendees.

The three organizations that arose from the 2009 expo -- the Dayton Area Defense Contractors Association, the Air Force Association-Wright Memorial Chapter, and the National Defense Industrial Association -- are strong supporters of the state and regional goal of securing UAS-connected economic growth for southwest Ohio.

"To avoid diluting support for the Ohio UAS Conference, the board of trustees has voted to discontinue any further investigation of another Expo event," Owsley said in the statement.

The three organizations intend to help focus local efforts in support of regional UAS goals, including the conference, he said.

This year's conference is scheduled for Aug. 26-28 at the Dayton Convention Center.

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