Economic developers to woo defense contractors



The Augusta Economic Development Authority is planning a trip to Washington, D.C., this year to meet with defense contractors in an attempt to woo some of their operations to the region, enticing them with the move of the Army’s Cyber Command headquarters to Fort Gordon.

The trip is in the early planning stages and will take place after the Masters Tournament.

Authority employees told its board Thursday that they have had conversations with existing Fort Gordon contractors to get information on who to see and how to meet with them during a trip to the nation’s capital.

By 2019, the Cyber Command is projected to add 2,600 military, 900 civilian and 200 contractor jobs to the post. In all, the estimated growth will result in 5,620 military, civilian and contractor family members moving to the Augusta area, based on Army modeling projections.

“Going up to Washington, D.C., to see these military contractors is our next challenge,” said Walter Sprouse, the authority’s executive director.

On the home front, the authority has been meeting with speculation building developers. Sprouse said he met with two developers Wednesday with the idea of building sites for potential industrial operations. The buildings would go on land the authority owns near the Rockwood pigment plant under construction near Augusta Regional Airport.

“It is in our long-range plan to expand our capacity to have a building-ready situation,” said authority Chairman Henry Ingram.

Speculation buildings are empty shells aimed at attracting industrial operations looking for quick startup times, because they eliminate the wait for most of the construction timetable. The shells can be quickly tailored to the needs of the potential business.

The authority will seek about $3 million in special purpose local option sales tax funding to build the rest of the road through Augusta Corporate Park, which is home to Starbucks and Augusta Renewable Energy.

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