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U.S. Senator Jim Risch, R-Idaho, chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, has named xCraft Enterprises, LLC of Coeur d’Alene as the Small Business of the Month for January 2017. xCraft will be recognized in the Congressional Record of the U.S. Senate.

“Idaho is home to a burgeoning technology industry, thanks to a number of impressive innovators who bring their entrepreneurial spirit and innovations to our state,” said Risch. “xCraft has made our great state proud with their considerable success and continuous innovation in and contribution to the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or drone, industry. Their drones add immense value to a diverse number of industries that rely on this technology, and they continue to be a leader in this space. I am proud to recognize xCraft as the January Small Business of the Month.”

Co-founder and CEO JD Claridge started xCraft in Sandpoint based on his lifelong love of flying and aviation. His vision was for a company that would develop small, powerful, long-range drones to serve the needs of both hobbyists and commercial customers. xCraft’s patent-pending drones are built with lightweight materials that allow for long-range flight and are also capable of flying pre-programmed GPS-enabled flight paths. Notably, the company has designed a drone which has the ability to carry and utilize a smartphone, making it possible to link advanced smartphone technology to an economically-priced small drone.

The Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship oversees proposed legislation on matters relating to entrepreneurship and provides oversight of the Small Business Administration. The committee also researches, investigates and reports all problems relating to America’s small businesses to the full Senate. As Chairman, Risch will continue to honor America’s small businesses and entrepreneurs in the Senate each month.

Coeur d’Alene-based xCraft is a leading drone company developing innovative vehicles for the UAV market. Born with a passion for flight, Claridge got his degree in aerospace engineering, and got his pilot and mechanic licenses for aircraft. He worked in command aviation for most of his career, recently working for Quest Aircraft Company in Sandpoint as the lead electrical and avionics engineer for eight years. Through all that, he became a designated engineering representative with the FAA, allowing him to sign off on designs for the FAA, as a type of consultant.

He started Aero Designworks about four years ago, offering consulting work for aviation and aerospace design. He has always been into remote control aircraft and drones for fun, and he came up with the design for the X PlusOne. He brought it into Aero Designworks as a side project, before connecting up with xCraft co-founder Charles Manning.

In October 2015, the pair were featured on ABC’s “Shark Tank”, making history by negotiating an unprecedented deal with all five Sharks. This catapulted xCraft into the center of the public spotlight and made household names out of xCraft’s launch products; PhoneDrone Ethos and X PlusOne.