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Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

New aviation jobs expected as Macon-Bibb begins airport revitalization

Embraer OKs new 15-year lease which could mean up to 300 jobs at Middle Georgia Regional Airport
Liz Fabian
Middle Georgia Regional Airport could eventually house up to 300 aviation jobs at Embraer with a 15-year lease through the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority.

Macon-Bibb County’s plans to revitalize the Middle Georgia Regional Airport are taking flight after the County Commission approved new contracts designed to reinvigorate economic impact during Tuesday’s meetings.

Embraer Aircraft Maintenance Services agreed to a new ground lease for up to 15 years with the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority, which brought the company to town about six years ago. 

MBCIA Executive Director Stephen Adams said Embraer agreed to increase its monthly lease payments from $14K to $54K.

“In 2018, Middle Georgia Regional Airport was in a very different place. When Embaer came knocking, we were very excited about it and we had to prove to the aerospace market that we were open for business. So, we did a short-term lease at that time that was really intended for them to establish operations here and to test the market,” Adams said. 

The company agreeing to the new 5-year contract with two automatic renewals also helps with finding workers, he said. 

“This is instrumental in helping with workforce recruitment, making it very clear to potential employees that they are here to stay,” Adams added. 

In the beginning, Embraer agreed to bring 100 jobs, but this new agreement will give them the capacity for about 200 workers and potential for up to 300 positions as the Authority is prepared to offer incentives for growth, he said.

Commissioner Elaine Lucas complimented the Authority for its economic development work and urged the community and students to take advantage of these aviation job opportunities. 

“I want to encourage our citizens to get themselves prepared to go into these jobs because I hate to see all those other county’s tags where folks come in and take jobs that we as citizens are kind of underwriting and supporting,” Lucas said. 

Macon-Bibb County took over fueling and servicing of private aircraft and will demolish the old location of Lowe Aviation, which still provides charter service.

Nearly $297,000 of Macon-Bibb’s airport fund is going to Sheridan Construction to demolish the old Lowe Aviation two-story executive terminal and the FAA’s one story building nearby.

Interim Airport Director Heather Lowe said the buildings coming down are in between the two World War II hangars along the tarmac. 

Commissioners approved the money as Phase 1 of constructing a new guitar-shaped Fixed Base Operation, or FBO facility, to service private planes.

MBCIA has its own airport fund that uses rental income to maintain the facilities, which Commissioner Bill Howell said is essential.

“We’ve got a lot of buildings out there at the end of their life and need some serious love, and it takes money to fix all that,” Howell said.  

Mayor Lester Miller said a Request for Proposals, or RFP, for constructing the FBO will likely go out in early fall. 

Budget and other business

Tuesday’s meetings began with the budget public hearing, but no one signed up for  comments on Miller’s $211.6 million Fiscal Year 2025 budget, which comes up for approval June 18. Since the budget recommends rolling back the millage rate, no additional hearings are necessary.

Macon-Bibb County Mayor Lester Miller again proposed rolling back the millage in his Fiscal Year 2025 budget that totals $211.6 million. (Macon-Bibb County)

Commissioners accepted $2.9 million of the county’s share of state fuel tax revenue to be used for local road maintenance and improvements and nearly $48,000 from GDOT to provide landscaping at the Avondale Mill Road interchange with Ga. 247.

They approved $300,000 from the general fund for roof repairs to the Macon Coliseum, nearly $165,000 in SPLOST funds for firefighter breathing apparatus and over $174,000 for IT cloud services, which is not related to the recent reported computer disruption. 

Commissioner Bill Howell sponsored the elimination of the annual renewal process for disabled citizens to be exempt from garbage fees. 

Commissioners unanimously approved Howell’s ordinance to allow automatic renewals, which Howell said lessens the burden on the Tax Commissioner’s Office and the eligible disabled residents. 

The exemption expires if that person moves from the residence or dies. 

Commissioners honored Tiersten Watkins, the GRPA “A” state champion in long jump and daughter of Commissioner Virgil Watkins. 

After presenting Tiersten a proclamation and posing for photographs, Miller said, “We need to bring her back often because I’ve never seen Commissioner Watkins smile as much as he did in that picture.”

Here are highlights from the meeting captured in social media posts.   

Civic Journalism Senior Fellow Liz Fabian covers Macon-Bibb County government entities and can be reached at [email protected] or 478-301-2976.

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