WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — Leaders at Robins Air Force Base say the state of the base's economic impact is "strong."
They updated the public on their priorities, progress, and partnership opportunities during the annual State of the Base event on Thursday morning.
Community members got base updates from the 78th Air Base Wing and major mission partners in the Museum of Aviation's Century of Flight at 11:30 a.m.
The Robins Regional Chamber hosted the event while Chamber President and CEO April Bragg moderated it, asking "pre-provided" questions to panelists.
Installation Commander Colonel Brian Moore said over 200 people attended the event. This was a shift from last year's event, which had to be held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We've been sitting at zero cases associated with the base for weeks now," Moore said.
He says with this good news that the base will continue to open up.
"Similar, I think, to probably the rest of Middle Georgia, the state of economic impact is strong," he said.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic impact from the base in the community is $3.54 billion, compared to $3.38B from last year. That's a $155 million, or 4.6% increase.
Moore says this estimate is conservative, and the base is using the same methods to asses economic impact as they did prior to the pandemic. He says this methodology is strict, and it primarily looks at direct and indirect labor.
He says the $3.54B breaks out into about $1.74B in direct payroll and $430M of military. About $570M of their contracts went to Georgia firms, with around $186 million for Houston County specifically.
Maj. Gen. Matthew J. Burger, the deputy commander of the Air Force Reserve Command, says the base's direct impact is about $353 million locally in Central Georgia.
"That's good news. We tracked, through COVID, with a stable, consistent workload, and labor distribution. To me, even better percentages," he said.
Moore says there's opportunity to continue to grow and expand in the region. He says they're working to transform Robins into the Air Force Model for Mission Partner and Community Integration.
"In 25 years, I have yet to see a community so invested," he said.
Moore says they're looking forward to continue partnerships in education, like with local school districts.
"There’s nobody better at taking care of America’s sons and daughters than this community,” he said.
Burger says the base is working to bring in new capability through IT technology and facility expansions. He says the pandemic has caused base officials to rethink its IT strategy.
Burger says he believes the base will always maintain some level of a hybrid workforce, in order to support headquarters activity across all units.
"I think our employees are doing a great job under these conditions," Burger said.