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North Dakota's first private drone company merges

A Grand Forks-based unmanned aircraft company claiming to be North Dakota’s oldest private drone business has merged with another drone business under a parent company.

Unmanned Applications Institute (UAI) International announced Tuesday it had signed a deal to merge with ISight RPV Services to form Midwest Drone Group. Together, the two have 11 employees that conduct operations across 15 states.

“The last couple of years we have been working very closely together -- sharing people, sharing assets,” said Tommy Kenville, the Midwest president who founded UAI. “We grew 100 percent last year, and we were growing a bunch this year. It just made sense for us to roll the companies together in ownership so we are growing together instead of separately.”

UAI was founded in 2010 out of Grand Forks. It started by offering consulting services and curriculum development but eventually offered inspection  services for infrastructure. ISight started in late 2014 and also offers inspection services.

“We are very excited about the growth and the ability to hire local graduates and keep young professionals in North Dakota,” ISight co-founder Adam Lingwall said in a statement.

Both companies are stationed at the Center for Innovation on UND’s campus.

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers crime and education. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family raises registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as a city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.

Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.

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