No time to relax; community must help Robins stay the course

May 25, 2014 

There was weeping and gnashing of teeth in Middle Georgia when retired Maj. Gen. Robert McMahon announced his departure from the 21st Century Partnership back in April. McMahon was and is a fixer.

When McMahon came to Robins Air Force Base in 2010, the base was on the Department of Defense’s top 40 list of worst installations for lost civilian production days. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration had issued 39 citations against Robins. And yes, there was labor unrest. McMahon fixed it.

When he went to the partnership, he was looked on as a savior. He had connections at the Pentagon that other installations would die for. Now he’s gone. He’s not gone far as he heads up the C-17 program at Robins, but still, he’s not at the head of the partnership or the installation. But there is good news. No one man can save the base. As valuable as McMahon was and is, the base’s biggest asset is the Middle Georgia communities that have stepped up to the proverbial plate and hiked the level of community support for the base. It’s noticed at the Pentagon. It’s noticed that the encroachment issues on the south end of the base are well on the way to resolution. A new sense of common interest between labor and management is noticed. The Houston County school system was asked to step up its commitment to STEM education, and it did so. It’s noticed and appreciated. Having Middle Georgia State College a few blocks from the base entrance is noticed.

The effort has to continue. Everyone understands what is at stake. Robins, like the rest of the military, is being impacted by financial decisions being made in Washington, D.C.

While the Senate has basically rejected a 2015 BRAC, that does not mean a removal of BRAC from our vocabulary. For the foreseeable future, there will be different threats and opportunities for Robins, and it will take united community partners to fight off the threats and capitalize on the opportunities.

The 21st Century Partnership will find new leadership and will continue to coordinate efforts to make sure Robins remains the top industrial complex in the state and a most vital contributor to the Middle Georgia economy.

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