Former Northrop site in Perry to become mock city

wcrenshaw@macon.comDecember 6, 2011 

PERRY -- If anyone wondered why a company employing 100 people would need a 2,200-acre industrial complex, the new owner of the former Northrop Grumman site gave an explanation Tuesday.

Geoff Burkart, president and chief executive officer of Guardian Centers of Kennesaw, came to the Perry City Council meeting to talk about what the company plans to do with the site located off Perry Parkway.

With construction expected to start in January, Burkart said the massive complex will be turned into a mock city, including a mock interstate. Emergency personnel from around the country -- as many as 5,000 at a time -- will come to the site for disaster-preparedness training.

Plans for the complex include creating two city blocks of demolished buildings and a fully-equipped command center with a helicopter pad on the roof.

“The facility is designed to simulate disasters of all kinds,” Burkart said.

It will be the only privately-owned facility like it in the country. There are two similar government facilities, and one of those is on a small scale, he said.

The company will bring in some of its own employees, but it will be doing some local hiring, including role players.

Burkart said one important aim of the facility is to train emergency personnel from varying response services to work together in a disaster.

The company will bring an unusual use to a site with an unusual history. Originally built to manufacture missiles, it was never used for that purpose because the government contract was cancelled before work could begin. It has been vacant since Vought Aircraft moved out in 2002, and most of the site has never been used at all.

The site also could potentially bring in another major industry. Burkart said the only building on the property that they can’t use is the manufacturing plant, so they are actively seeking a tenant.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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