The board that governs Georgia’s technical colleges likely will wait until later this year to take the first public steps toward building a highly-anticipated state aviation maintenance school at Paulding County’s airport.
And a state lawmaker whose district includes the airport said he is happy with the progress being made on the “behind the scenes” work which must be done before the facility can begin construction.
Georgia’s Technical College System board had not taken action on construction of the school adjacent to Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport since Gov. Brian Kemp and the Georgia General Assembly added $35 million to the 2019 state budget for its construction earlier this year.
The aviation maintenance academy is planned as part of Chattahoochee Technical College’s Dallas campus and will train students from throughout northwest Georgia for a growing industry which has job vacancies opening daily, officials have said.
District 17 State Rep. Martin Momtahan, R-Dallas, said he was “excited about where we are in the process.”
He said the technical college system is “busy behind the scenes making sure that this project is successful now and in the long run.”
“When starting a construction project at any airport at this scale you must first get the appropriate permits from federal, state, and local agencies,” Momtahan said.
“These applications and permits take time to process and are designed in such a way that the results at the end of the project is an end product that serves our community as well as the entire state of Georgia in an impactful way,” he said.
Momtahan said the academy “will allow students right here in our community to learn valuable skills in a high need field that will allow them to raise their families.”
“We are thankful for the selection of our site as the No. 1 place for aviation training in the state of Georgia, and hope that it will continue to make the state of Georgia the nation’s No. 1 place to do business,” Momtahan said.
Chattahoochee Tech President Ron Newcomb said he expects the next step toward beginning construction will be taken this fall when the state government begins seeking proposals on architectural and construction plans, a technical college system spokesman said.
The presence of the academy is expected to bolster the Dallas area’s restaurant and retail sectors after students begin attending classes.
It also could raise the profile of the adjacent airport, which has been struggling financially after being unable to secure federal approval for its plan for commercial passenger airline service.
Boyd Austin, chairman of the county authority that oversees the airport, agreed with Momtahan he is not concerned about the lack of public action because of the need for preliminary work on the project.
“I think it is just a matter of time,” said Austin, who is chairman of the Paulding County Airport Authority. “Every “i” must be dotted, and every “t” crossed.
“I have every confidence that it will come to fruition very soon due to the commitment of Gov. Kemp and our legislative delegation,” Austin said.
Former Gov. Nathan Deal in October traveled by helicopter to the 11-year-old airport in west Paulding County to announce his plan for the aviation maintenance academy.
He said aircraft maintenance workers are in increasingly short supply in Georgia as the state’s aviation industry grows and workers in the “baby boomer” generation retire.
The retirements are leaving vacancies in the workers’ former positions as new positions are being created, state officials have said.
The Paulding County Board of Commissioners and Airport Authority recently asked the Federal Aviation Administration to allow the county to use about 3 acres of airport land for construction of an extension of Airport Parkway to the site of the new academy.