view counter

First respondersGeorgia to build privately funded first responder training center

Published 28 November 2011

A local firm in Georgia is set to build a privately funded training facility for first responders that would bring more than 100 jobs to Perry; the sophisticated training center, built by Guardian Centers of Georgia, would help prepare first responders for natural disasters and terrorist attacks

A local firm in Georgia is set to build a privately funded training facility for first responders that would bring more than 100 jobs to Perry.

The sophisticated training center, built by Guardian Centers of Georgia, would help prepare first responders for natural disasters and terrorist attacks.

“There will be no facility like this anywhere in the world,” said Jeff Batcher, a spokesman for the company. “The federal government is very interested in having a private solution to this.”

According to Batcher, the facility could be up and running within nine months.

All of the funding for the project comes from private investors.

“There are no taxpayers dollars going to the building of this facility,” Battcher said.

Local officials are excited about the prospects of the training center and the jobs that it would bring.

Morgan Law, the executive director of the Houston County Development Authority, said, “Anytime you can add a hundred or more new jobs to a community, especially when everyone is hurting so desperately, that’s a wonderful thing.”

The new training facility will be housed in an old Northrop Grumman plant.

“The Northrop Grumman site just provided so many more opportunities because the facility’s already built. From a timing perspective, it was going to be a little quicker to get everything done,” Battcher explained. “That facility is tremendous, and most of it’s never been used because they never built one rocket there. The contract got canceled. It’s been mothballed for years.”

It is unclear how much the training center will cost, but early estimates for a building at another location put the construction price at $35 million.

Battcher said the majority of the private investors in the project want to remain anonymous, but retired Army Lieutenant General H. Steven Blum, a former commander of the Army National Guard, is reportedly involved in the project.

“These are people who are very concerned, people who love this country, who want to make sure first responders get first-rate training,” Battcher said. “They have been contacted by people at the highest level of federal government who say, ‘Help us build this so we can bring everyone together.’”

Guardian Centers plans to break ground for the new facility in January.

Geoff Burkart, the president and CEO of Guardian Centers, said the facility will be “a showcase for the community and a benefit to the nation.”