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Agreement between Macon airport and RAFB should improve economic development

An agreement signed Wednesday allows for more opportunities for Macon’s airport to better serve Robins Air Force Base and improve economic development for the entire region.

A memorandum of understanding was signed by Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert Reichert on behalf of the Middle Georgia Regional Airport and Brigadier Gen. John Kubinec, commander of the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex, at a news conference at the airport.

The agreement will “establish a mutual understanding of the potential opportunities between (the airport and the logistics complex), said retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Robert McMahon. “It is a first-of-a-kind type of agreement that allows us to mutually leverage to the betterment of both the community and the base the current capabilities that exist, and perhaps more importantly the capabilities that in the future will exist at the Middle Georgia Regional Airport.”

McMahon also is vice chairman for governmental regional operations for the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce.

If relationships are created between the airport and the complex “that enhances not only Macon-Bibb but the entire Middle Georgia regional area,” he said. It impacts employment and where people live and spend money.

“We are excited about this opportunity, he said. “The potential is phenomenal.”

The agreement encourages overflow work from the base to be done by tenants at the airport, Pat Topping, senior vice president of the Macon Economic Development Commission, said after the announcement.

The memorandum of understanding says the logistic complex may provide the airport tenants with the following type of goods and services when the end use is for the Department of Defense weapon systems: new manufacturing, aircraft and component repairs, weapon system modifications and upgrades, production related engineering, software engineering, laboratory testing and evaluation and re-engineering.

Reichert said the agreement is part of a collaborative effort with the city of Warner Robins and others to support Robins and the logistic complex.

“As we looked for ways to better serve (RAFB) and to help them accomplish their goals, objectives and initiatives, we continued to wonder about whether there was a role by Middle Georgia Regional Airport because of its proximity to Robins … and its vacant space, its availability of land, its access to civilian contractors that may come in,” he said.

While the agreement won’t have immediate results, “we will look for ways to partner,” Reichert said.

Kubinec said all the parties involved had been working on the agreement for about six months, and the cooperative effort will reach further than the immediate area.

“It’s about the broader impact we will have on our nation’s defense,” he said. “This is a big deal for Middle Georgia.”

Linda S. Morris: 478-744-4223, @MidGaBiz

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