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If you’ve spent time in Cobb County, you’ve probably heard the roar of an F-22 Raptor or C-130 Hercules passing overhead, but you may not be aware of the rich history related to military in Cobb County. While Cobb has been established since 1832, it was transformed in April of 1943 when the United States Air Force Plant 6 opened and Bell Aircraft began production of the B-29 Superfortresses that were so critical to the US during World War II. Creating more than 28,000 jobs, the Bell Bomber plant was not only essential to our national defense, but it was also the largest economic development win that Cobb County had ever seen. Cobb became an employment hub for all North Georgia, bringing in thousands of job seekers from all over the region. Lockheed Martin took over operations at the plant in 1951 and it has been the home to the C-130 Hercules and many other planes since that time.

Fast-forwarding to today, Cobb County is home to Dobbins Air Reserve Base which includes the 94th Airlift Wing (Air Force Reserve), 22nd Air Force (Air Force Reserve), the Clay National Guard Center (Georgia Army and Air National Guard Joint Headquarters), Navy Reserve Center Atlanta (Navy Reserve), Combat Logistics Regiment 45 (USMC Reserve), and the Defense Contract Management Agency Lockheed Martin – Marietta (Air Force active duty). Additionally, many other units and service members are represented within these at Dobbins ARB and their impact is far-reaching. As an example, the Air Force Reserve units at Dobbins ARB have conservatively estimated their economic impact on the surrounding community at more than $180 million. Since this number only includes USAF Reserve activity, the true economic impact is actually much higher.

The impact of the military industry has created a halo effect in our county bringing opportunity for small businesses and support organizations to thrive. Win-Tech, a small business located in Kennesaw, is a shining example of how military presence in Cobb positively impacts the business community. While they provide specialized tooling and precision machining for a wide range of industries, Win-Tech is a certified parts provider to Lockheed Martin. In addition, the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), a nonprofit, applied research organization of the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), officially opened its doors to their expanded Cobb County Research Facility on Lockheed Martin’s Marietta campus in 2019. This partnership has brought together top researchers from both organizations into a state-of-the-art facility, which is doing cutting-edge research and development work right here in Cobb County.

As a whole, Cobb makes every effort to rally around the military community. Last week, at the Atlanta Regional Military Affairs Council (ARMAC) Military Appreciation Luncheon, in conjunction with the Cobb Chamber, we had the opportunity to honor many who are serving and have served as well as hear from leaders from our Cobb County based commands. The Cobb Chamber also organizes the Honorary Commanders program that pairs business professionals in Cobb with leaders from our military community at Dobbins. This unique program allows the business leaders to gain an understanding of our military’s impact and experience various aspects of our national defense system, but it also provides an opportunity for these military leaders to learn more about our community from these civilian counterparts. There is no other leadership program like this in our country and we are lucky to have this wonderful partnership. This program also served as an inspiration for the creation of Shepherd’s Men, a non-profit organization committed to supporting veterans who have been affected by the hidden injuries of war. After participating in the Chamber’s program, Travis Ellis, alongside Troy Campbell, felt inspired to create the non-profit as a platform to advocate for veterans in their pursuit of treatment and healing.

In supporting veterans in their transition from active duty to civilian life, the Superior Plumbing Veterans Education Career Transition Resource (VECTR) Center at Chattahoochee Tech seeks to provide them with educational services and a variety of resources to ensure their success. Additionally, to honor those who have fallen, the Cobb Veterans Memorial Foundation has made it their mission to build a memorial in Cobb. The memorial will also educate and inspire future generations as well as provide a place of reflection.

To read the rest of this article, view it on the Cobb Business Journal‘s website here.