Team pitches expertise in bid to manage G-RAMP project

WARNER ROBINS — A prospective team with expertise in development, architecture and engineering proposed Tuesday that it be hired to manage the Georgia-Robins Aerospace Maintenance Partnership, more commonly known as G-RAMP.

G-RAMP is a major economic development project to build an aircraft maintenance and overhaul center on 544 city-owned acres adjacent to Robins Air Force Base.

At a called meeting Tuesday, the team made its pitch to the Warner Robins Redevelopment Agency, made up of the mayor and City Council members.

The team consisted of a joint venture between engineering firm Rosser and architectural planning firm The McDuffie Group along with development firm Panattoni.

In the presentation, representatives from Rosser and McDuffie indicated that the joint venture would serve as the program manager for the project while Panattoni would serve as developer.

Bill McDuffie, president and CEO of The McDuffie Group, touted the group’s resources.

“We have everything that is needed to make it a success,” McDuffie said.

Gary Lee, executive director of the city’s redevelopment agency, said the team had been involved with the project since 2001.

“It would be good to bring in someone who understands it and can tie into the base,” Lee said.

Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Ron Smith said Tuesday’s presentation created an air of optimism about the project.

“If this team can’t put it together, we’re in trouble,” Smith said.

Yet, no program manager can be hired for the $40 million G-RAMP project until funds are available.

Dan McRae, the city’s G-RAMP attorney, said that the city has a plan to seek such funding.

McRae informed the agency that money was being sought on the federal, state and regional levels. Contributions are also expected to come from local sources as well as from the private sector.

The city of Warner Robins has requested $72 million for the project from President Obama’s economic stimulus package.

Doug Moore, spokesman for U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall, D-Ga., said Marshall is trying to secure congressional funding for the project, but said Marshall calls it “a long shot.”

However, McRae is optimistic about getting assistance from the federal government. “This is such a large project that we hope the federal government contributes a lot,” McRae said.

Grant funding is being sought from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as well as the state. An application is expected to be submitted for a OneGeorgia grant.

“We’re getting down to the point where we need to talk about dollars and cents,” McRae said.

McRae did not give amounts being sought from the various entities, but said the agency should expect an update in the next 30 days.

“By the end of this month, we should have something concrete,” Mayor Donald Walker told the agency.

To contact writer Natasha Smith, call 923-3109, extension 236