Cobb Chatter - The word on the street on Cobb's busy business front
February 03, 2014 12:00 AM | 1469 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Lockheed look strong for 2014

2013 "was a phenomenal year for Lockheed and the plant, although you didn't always hear about it in the news," according to Lockheed Martin VP and Marietta site GM Shan Cooper.

The plant delivered 25 new C-130J Super Hercules cargolifters in '13 and is projected to build 24 this year. The J is the only aircraft production program at the plant these days and employs 1,930 of the plant's 6,300 workers, according to director of communications Johnny Whitaker.

The plant delivered its 300th copy of the C-130J last year and also saw the C-130J fleet surpass a cumulative 1 million flight hours, he said.

The plant produced and delivered 37 Center Wing Assemblies for the F-35 Lightning II fighter jet, with about 40 (or about one per manufacturing week) expected this year. The Assemblies are trucked to the Lockheed plant in Fort Worth, home of the F-35 production line.

The plant upgraded six C-5 Galaxys into C-5M Super Galaxys last year and is expected to convert seven this year.

As for the rewinging program for the P-3 Orion maritime surveillance plane, the plant delivered 15 wing sets in 2013 and is projected to deliver 10 this year. The project is expected to add 15 or more years of additional life for the 50-year-old planes.

No new production lines are in the pipeline in the near term, but should LM land contracts to build the new T-X Air Force trainer, the new long-range bomber or more drone programs, "we want to position the Marietta operation to compete for the work to be accomplished here," Whitaker said.

And Cooper for not hearing about it in the news, we did mention the plant's accomplishments in the January issue of CBJ's Chatter. Maybe Cooper should give us a second glance when she gets a chance.

On Braves, Cobb learned from Gwinnett

Cobb seems to have learned from Gwinnett’s mistakes when it came to negotiating with the Atlanta Braves organization, according to KSU professor of Sport Management Dr. J.C. Bradbury.

Gwinnett used public dollars to build a minor-league stadium for the Braves. The contract there does not have revenue guarantees and instead requires the Braves to pay that county a percentage of revenues from things like parking and naming rights. As it turned out, revenues have not met the rosy projections and the county has gotten only about half of what it expected, Bradbury said recently.

“In Cobb, if parking revenue is not what is expected, the Braves have to eat that,” Bradbury said.

Also unlike Cobb, Gwinnett’s Memorandum of Understanding with the Braves was never released publicly.

“Cobb’s process was not perfect, but it was certainly more open that Gwinnett’s,” he said. “Over there, the stadium and the land deals for it have become a symbol of the bad leadership they’ve had. I don’t see that happening in Cobb.”

The story behind Riverwalk

As you might have read in this issue, Riverwalk came up dry last month after Cobb School Board members made clear in a low-profile, high-impact summit meeting that they were not going to roll over and let the Development Authority of Cobb County use school tax dollars to underwrite part of a 10-year property-tax abatement for developer John Williams. Williams contended the abatement was vital to his plans for the $103 million office/apartment project along Interstate 75 and loudly threatened to build Riverwalk in Fulton County if he didn’t get it.

But the authority’s efforts hit a wall after the request was successfully recast by the school board as a debate about school funding, not economic development. It became an argument over whether the authority could appropriate the school board’s tax revenues without the board’s say-so. And the authority got things wrong right off the bat, blindsiding the board with the abatement rather than working ahead of time to try and get its buy-in.

It didn’t help Williams’ cause that Marietta Daily Journal reporting showed the authority — with the quiet concurrence of Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee and most of his board — had granted the developer’s request even though it failed to meet the county’s job-creation / economic impact guidelines for winning such an abatement.

Public opinion was quick to shift to the board’s side, encouraging it to stand its ground. 

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