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Delta Regional Authority Awards Major Grant to Drone Imagining Partnership

Launched in 2021, a unique partnership between the LMA, LaMATS and the University of Louisiana Monroe’s Unmanned Aerial Systems program offers low and no-cost remote imaging services to Louisiana local governments for needs such as storm damage assessment, land and infrastructure surveys and documentation of public events.

This week, the federally-funded Delta Regional Authority confirmed an award to the partnership for $112,000 as part of the recent multi-million dollar federal infrastructure funding and the DRA’s mission to support transportation and public infrastructure, workforce training and business development in 252 parishes and counties across eight states.

“This is a huge boost to our new program,” said LaMATS Board President, Mayor Chuck Robichaux of Rayne. “It will help us provide essential technical capacity and invaluable drone imaging to communities that could not otherwise afford it.”

The DRA award will make possible significant additions and upgrades to the partnership’s existing drone fleet; it will expand the program’s reach to numerous rural and small Louisiana municipalities and will fund a “train the trainer” program, in which local representatives (including police, fire crews and first responders) complete hands-on instruction in drone piloting and then share that training with colleagues.

LMA Executive Director John Gallagher thanked Leslie Durham, Alternate Federal Co-Chairwoman of the DRA, for her office’s favorable consideration of this grant application. “We know that state and federal resources are tight,” he said, “but this is an excellent way to leverage existing tools and expertise to assist our many small and rural Association members.”

LaMATS Executive Director Cliff Palmer, an experienced drone pilot who volunteers his services to local communities, sees the new funding as an exciting opportunity: “Witnessing the immediate and obvious benefits of an aerial perspective, local leaders have clamored for more access and suggested numerous new applications we’ll now be able to explore.”

ULM Chief Innovation and Research Officer John W. Sutherlin, Ph.D., expressed his enthusiasm on behalf of the university’s Unmanned Aerial Systems team and its partnership with LMA and LaMATS. “We feel this is a perfect fit for our role in providing technical education and job opportunity, both to our students and to the citizens of Louisiana,” he said.

The Delta Regional Authority (DRA) is a federal-state partnership created by Congress in 2000 to promote and encourage the economic development of the Mississippi River Delta and Alabama Black Belt regions. DRA invests in projects supporting transportation infrastructure, basic public infrastructure, workforce training, and business development. DRA’s mission is to help create jobs, build communities, and improve lives across this largely rural area.

For information on how to receive drone imaging services or to participate as a local drone pilot trainer, contact Cliff Palmer at (225) 316-7157 or


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