A Kennesaw company plans to build a state-of-the-art training facility for first responders at the old Northrop Grumman plant in Perry that could employ 100 full-time workers.
“There will be no facility like this anywhere in the world,” Guardian Centers of Georgia spokesman Jeff Battcher said Monday.
The center will provide advanced training on natural disasters, as well as terrorist attacks, and it could be up and running in about nine months, Battcher said. Funding will come from private investors.
“The federal government is very interested in having a private solution to this,” Battcher said. “There are no taxpayers dollars going to the building of this facility.”
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Morgan Law, executive director of the Houston County Development Authority, said officials are excited about the immediate and long-term potential of the project.
“Anytime you can add a hundred or more new jobs to a community, especially when everyone is hurting so desperately, that’s a wonderful thing,” Law said.
Geoff Burkart, Guardian Centers president and CEO, said the facility will be “a showcase for the community and a benefit to the nation.”
Company officials initially planned on locating the center in Wilkes County and had spent the past couple of years looking at two sites there before finally deciding on the Houston County building.
“The Northrop Grumman site just provided so many more opportunities because the facility’s already built. From a timing perspective, it was going to be a little quicker to get everything done,” Battcher said. “That facility is tremendous, and most of it’s never been used because they never built one rocket there. The contract got canceled. It’s been mothballed for years.”
Officials did not say Monday how much the center is expected to cost, but Burkart told the National Guard Today publication earlier this year the construction price would be about $35 million if built privately. At that time, however, the center was still planned for Wilkes County.
According to the publication, one of Burkart’s partners is retired Army Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, former commander of the Army National Guard, who sees the training center as long overdue. Most of the private investors want to remain anonymous, Battcher said.
“These are people who are very concerned, people who love this country, who want to make sure first responders get first-rate training. They have been contacted by people at the highest level of federal government who say, ‘Help us build this so we can bring everyone together’.”
Guardian Centers finalized the purchase of the Northrop Grumman facility, including all buildings, structures and surrounding acreage, Friday. A ground breaking will be held in January.
To contact writer Rodney Manley, call 744-4623.