The Cobb Chamber of Commerce, with support from numerous organizations, businesses, politicians and residents throughout Cobb County, is placing a strong focus on gaining community support and educating high-level military leaders and elected officials on the value of Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta. This effort is to remind everyone of the $181.7 million economic impact Dobbins brings to the area with job creation, business and organizational partnerships such as Lockheed Martin Aeronautics-Marietta and the business community’s role in supporting Dobbins.
U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia) says the federal administration has requested another Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC), and although Congress has not approved it, the steps Dobbins and surrounding communities are taking will be important in making the case to keep Dobbins open and vibrant. “Dobbins is a tremendous asset to Cobb County and to the defense of the United States of America,” Isakson says. “It is a unique treasure for all of Cobb County and the Southeastern United States.”
Retired Major Gen. Jim Bankers, chairman of the Atlanta Regional Military Affairs Council, says, “Community support is one of the most important elements in ensuring the future of Dobbins and its contributions to our community. Education and awareness are key to obtaining that support.” With chamber assistance, a video presentation was created to help the business community understand the value of Dobbins. “We have excellent support from our local, state and federal officials but statements of support are always helpful and keep the subject fresh,” Bankers says. “Dobbins, Lockheed and the Clay National Guard Center are an essential contributor to our community and deserve our support. It’s value goes far beyond the financial and jobs it provides to the community.”
Gaining support for Dobbins began about two years ago with the Georgia Military Affairs Coordinating Committee. “We formed a small group to determine what we could do to put Dobbins ARB in the best position to survive coming budget cuts or a BRAC, which seems inevitable at some point in the near future,” Bankers says. The group contacted David Connell, president and CEO of the chamber, for his organization’s support. “The chamber has been an integral part of everything we do and I can’t thank the members enough for their support,” he adds. “The effort is now part of the Atlanta Regional Military Affairs Council and receives strong support from the community and its elected leaders.”
In response to this support, Col. Brett Clark, Dobbins’ 94th Airlift Wing commander, says, “Whenever there is a crisis in the world, rest assured our men and women have the experience and capabilities to respond to any situation. Our community partners are a key component to our response capability and a large reason why Team Dobbins stands ready to answer to our nation’s call.”
Clark went on to say that the Department of Defense has a unique relationship with the community in northwest Georgia that isn’t replicated anywhere in the country. “Many of the residents in and around Dobbins are quite familiar with our C-130s,” he says. “We provide much more value and capability than our airlift mission alone. In fact, Dobbins is one of the few locations that has mission sets from all four branches of military represented on our base. We also have the world’s largest defense contractor in Lockheed Martin as a mission partner and a National Guard capability that is the eighth largest in the nation. Our community provides unparalleled support to all of these missions.”
Shan Cooper, vice president and general manager of Lockheed, says her team treasures its 63-year relationship with Dobbins. “They are much more than our neighbors—they are our mission partners, providing critical services such as air traffic control and flightline support, making it possible for us to fly and test the aircraft we build to support global security,” she says. “Our 6,000 employees, half of whom live in Cobb County, could not do their jobs without the support Team Dobbins provides. We look forward to many more years of this outstanding partnership.”
In closing, Isakson says that community collaboration places Dobbins in an advantageous position for a future round of BRAC, but that residents must remain vigilant going forward. “I encourage all businesses and individual citizens alike to take the opportunity to become more involved in the community, while also remembering to thank so many in our armed forces, and continue the great Cobb County tradition of working together to advance the Dobbins mission,” Isakson concludes.
It is a 1,663-acre property named after a Marietta native and World War II pilot, the late Capt. Charles Dobbins, and includes the base itself, Lockheed Martin/Air Force Plant #6 and the Clay National Guard Center. Dobbins supports more than 4,500 Guardsmen and Reservists from the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines; and it is the only remaining military installation in metro Atlanta. Dobbins additionally provides disaster response capability for area citizens, and officials work closely with federal agencies during catastrophic events.