Unmanned Aerial Systems P3

ClientGrand Forks County, ND
LocationsGrand Forks, ND


Identifying an optimal partner to develop an unmanned aerial systems business park under an enhanced use lease transaction with the US Air Force.

Client Goals:

Grand Forks County sought to enter into a public-private partnership to leverage its unencumbered air space and enhance the local Unmanned Aerial Systems industry.

The Department of the Air Force planned to out-lease a 217-acre parcel of underutilized land at Grand Forks AFB under a long-term ground lease, creating an opportunity to advance the regional UAS industry through a research and development (R&D) park.  

This park was intended to attract and grow businesses through synergistic relationships with Grand Forks Air Force Base, regional colleges and universities, and UAS-related organizations and businesses.

Hayat Brown Role: 

Hayat Brown team members, as a subcontractor to Kutak Rock, served as a financial advisor to the County. Our team assisted in the analysis and execution of a public-private partnership (P3) between the County and a private sector development consortium to finance and develop the Air Force’s land to its highest and best use.

With a financial feasibility and market study completed, our team supported the evaluation of developer proposals, creating evaluation templates, training and participating in an evaluation team, and offering expertise in the review of developers’ proposals. 

Project Outcomes:

  • 2 M SF Aviation Business Park is planned with initial tenants successfully operating
  • 10-year project comprises unique, aviation-specific development, including 2 hangar spaces office, educational, light industrial and flex space, and technology/data center facilities
  • Mutually beneficial project will generate economic development, financial, and business development advantages to the County, Air Force, and UAS industry
    • County adds up to 3,000 new jobs, grosses $300M+ over 50 years, and increases the tax base by adding population and businesses
    • UAS industry consolidates disparate firms to reduce costs and streamline innovation
    • Air Force receives $21.9M in fair market value for underutilized land and better integrates with the community surrounding the installation