News release from Lisa Collins, Director of Economic Development
Governor Nathan Deal and more than 100 dignitaries, government officials, community members and guests took part in the recent groundbreaking ceremony for the American International Marksmanship Academy (AIM) in Blakely, Georgia – a new venture that will serve as an important foundation for Early County 2055's ongoing Economic Development Initiative.
AIM, a comprehensive, practical private shooting facility, will provide training and education to military, law enforcement agencies and civilians as well as offer professional and corporate membership packages, event opportunities and world-wide shooting competitions.
"I am proud to be a part of this significant celebration in Early County," said Governor Nathan Deal. "We are excited about this new venture and know that the American International Marksmanship Academy will be a real boost to the local economy, as well as the region and the state of Georgia. I want to commend the community for their hard work and dedication. This is a powerful example of how a community has joined together to help bring prosperity to the area. My sincere thanks to everyone that helped make this happen."
"Negotiations and planning for an Early County/AIM partnership began in July, 2010, when the Georgia Department of Economic Development earmarked Early County as a possible home for AIM Academy," said Lisa Collins, director of economic development for Early County 2055, a comprehensive, 50-year Economic Development Initiative.
"AIM Academy will be an anchor for a number of partnerships with military bases in Georgia and the southeastern region of the country. We also expect to see an influx of related businesses that will establish themselves in the area. This is a great opportunity for the local community, the region and the state of Georgia."
The company chose Early County as its headquarters because of the proximity to military bases such as Fort Benning, GA and Fort Rucker, AL, which will benefit from the new training facility. AIM's long-term strategy is to provide military and government specialized operations training, National Guard and Reserve Unit training for specific overseas deployment and security training for civilian operations.
AIM expects to offer approximately 100 immediate employment opportunities to area residents, 200 jobs after two years, and up to 400 jobs when the facility is fully operational.
Marc Masoner, AIM founder and president/CEO, says he is not only excited about being in Early County, he is confident that AIM will be a premier, nationally renowned training site for military, law enforcement and civilians.
"Our facilities will provide superlative training by a world-class pool of instructors," Masoner said. "We want to give our customers real world experience so they will know what to expect and how to handle situations that requires defense training."
Instructors will be drawn from a top-notch pool of law enforcement and military experts, according to Masoner. "We have hired a group of instructors who have on-the-ground experience -- ranger regiment soldiers, Special Forces and navy seals and others who have performed in a variety of combat theaters," he said.
AIM Academy is located off of Highway 27 northeast of Blakely, Georgia on 2,300 acres of land. The training facilities will have three separate training areas, including the only 1,000 meter range in the area which will be used for advanced military training.
Curriculum will include sophisticated lifesaving skills, evasive and defensive techniques, dignitary protection, organization training, HALO instruction and a 5,400 foot, state-of-the-art air strip will used for various training including Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).
There will also be civilian membership programs, education and safety training, events and competitions. "A new 1300 acre civilian shooting facility, the Wiregrass Plantation Rod and Gun Club, will be located on the property," according to Masoner. "Club members will enjoy regularly scheduled pistol and rifle competitions, clay shooting sporting events and a great pro-shop."
Collins says having the AIM Academy in Early County will have an enormous impact on the area. "The new military training center in Early County will be an asset for the Fort Benning military base, which is the home of the Army's Infantry School and is the sixth largest Army post in the country. With the expansion of Fort Benning, as the result of military base shifts and closures, and the development of its Maneuver Center of Excellence, just the Columbus area alone expects about 28,000 service members and civilians to relocate to the region," Collins said. "We are hoping to be a south anchor community for Fort Benning, as they move and expand their borders. Hopefully, they will choose to move south, along the U. S. Highway 27 corridor, as land is plentiful and will fit into their overall plans for future development."
The initiative complements the overall mission of Early County 2055, an economic revitalization project and a long-term effort to protect the area's foundation and to build and maintain a thriving economic future.
"We are thrilled about this announcement and proud that so many people witnessed the groundbreaking event," said Collins. "AIM Academy is a great fit with our plans to bring new businesses into Early County that will play a big part in attaining sustainable, quality economic growth in the area."
Barton Rice, the executive director of Early County 2055 and a major investor of the AIM development, agrees. "This event is very exciting for the entire Early County community. Everyone has worked hard to make this economic revitalization project obtain traction, and the cooperation of the community has been wonderful. Our efforts are paying off. We welcome AIM Academy and thank them for their support."
We have the Georgia Department of Economic Development to thank for introducing AIM executives to the Early County team," said Ms. Collins. "There is great synergy in this partnership."
Here is a news release from the Governor's Office-
Deal: Marksmanship Academy brings 200 jobs to southwest Georgia
Gov. Nathan Deal today joined with local officials and community representatives at the groundbreaking for the American International Marksmanship (AIM) Academy in Blakely in Early County. AIM Academy will be a military and para-military training center, representing a $6 million initial investment that will create 100 immediate jobs, and is expected to bring up to 200 jobs to the area within two years.
"In a state known for its 12 active military installations and commitment to service personnel and their families, Georgia is proud to welcome the American International Marksmanship Academy. This facility will be a great benefit to our armed services and other active duty personnel," Deal said. "This project comes at an important time for Early County, and I join with this community and AIM Academy in celebrating such great news for southwest Georgia."
AIM Academy will cater to police, SWAT, National Guard, reserve and active duty organizations. The academy will have 25-1500 meter weapons ranges; training lanes for activities including breaching doors, walls and buildings; a shoot house; an unmanned vehicle training and testing area and will eventually house a race track where defensive and anti-terrorism driving techniques can be taught.
"I am excited about being in Early County, and am confident that AIM will be a premier, nationally renowned training site for military, law enforcement and civilians. Our facilities will provide superlative training by a world-class pool of instructors," said Marc Masoner, AIM founder, president and CEO. "We want to give our customers real world experience so they will know what to expect and how to handle situations that require defense training. We will also offer professional and corporate membership packages, event opportunities and worldwide shooting competitions."
Early County is a Georgia Certified Work Ready Community focused on the economic viability of its industries and the development of its skilled workforce. AIM Academy is expected to be a significant boost to the local economy as organizations come to the area to train at the facility, and as civilians travel to Early County to participate in shooting events and competitions.
"AIM Academy is a great fit with our plans to bring new businesses into Early County. We could very well become a south anchor community for Fort Benning as it moves and expands its borders," said Lisa Collins, director of economic development for Early County 2055. "Hopefully, Fort Benning will choose to move south, along the U.S. Highway 27 corridor, as land is plentiful and will fit into their overall plans for future development."
Chuck Hunsaker, Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) senior manager for defense issues, managed this project on behalf of the state, along with GDEcD senior project manager Rhonda Geiger.
About American International Marksmanship Academy
American International Marksmanship Academy (AIM) is a comprehensive, practical private shooting facility that will provide training and education to military, law enforcement agencies and civilians, as well as offer professional and corporate membership packages, event opportunities and world-wide shooting competitions.
About Early County 2055
Early County 2055 is a nonprofit organization created to sustain the EC 2055 50-year vision, fund the long-term effort to protect the area's historic and cultural foundation and build and maintain a prosperous economic future. For further information go to www.earlycounty2055.com.