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Thursday, June 23, 2011 - 9:36am

Military Training Center Brings Jobs

Up to 200 new jobs are on the way to southwest Georgia. And an economic official calls it the region’s biggest economic announcement in decades.

A new military and para-military training center will call Early County home. The American International Marksmanship Academy could be open by the fall with 100 jobs. Another 100 could be in place within two years.

AIM Academy will cater to police, SWAT, National Guard, reserve and active duty organizations. Its training center will include weapons ranges, and areas for training in breaching doors, walls and buildings.

Known primarily for agriculture, southwest Georgia has a nearly 10 percent unemployment rate. So Lisa Collins with the area’s economic development team says they’ve tried to think ‘outside the box’ in recruiting companies.

“Economic development, particularly in a rural area, is a long-term process. While you’re trying to recruit business and industry, you’ve got to try to fix problems that are keeping business and industry from wanting to come.”

Collins says this announcement will translate into tens of millions of dollars in economic impact. And she says not since a Georgia Pacific plant moved-in decades ago has there been as big an infusion of jobs and investment.

Officials with the marksmanship academy were considering six sites in Georgia. They settled on a 2,300 tract of land between U.S. 27 and State Route 62 near Blakely.

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