BY LINDA S. MORRIS
Bibb County has a large, mostly empty, building for sale or lease.
The 219,000-square-foot building with nearly 500 parking spaces, formerly occupied by the Boeing Co., has been swept clean, and the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority is marketing it for another user.
Boeing announced in October 2016 it was shutting down its operation here. At the time it employed about 120 workers.
Authority Chairman Cliffard Whitby, Vice Chairman Robby Fountain and some staff members did a walk-through of the facility Monday morning, Whitby said during the regularly scheduled meeting.
“The beautiful facility that has operated for many, many years is in the possession of the community, and what an asset,” he said. “It is a pretty remarkable place. … It was bittersweet. … Although it was not what we wanted a couple of years ago.”
Whitby said that with Contour Airlines returning commercial airline service next week at the Middle Georgia Regional Airport, it will be an advantage to market the Boeing plant.
“I would rather view this as an opportunity rather than a setback now,” he said. “I think in the very near future, we will be demonstrating that this is a good thing for our community.”
The building off Avondale Mill Road is mostly empty, except for large machines that made the fuselage for the C-17, Fountain said. It is fully climate controlled.
“A majority of those workers found jobs at (Robins Air Force Base), or they are going through the hiring process now,” he said. “So that was good news. … A good amount of people had a chance to retire.”
In 2013, Boeing announced that it would shut down its C-17 Globemaster production line in Macon — affecting about 300 jobs — by the third or fourth quarter of 2015. Then in February 2014, the company announced it would discontinue work on the CH-47 Chinook helicopter in Macon, which would claim additional jobs.
The Boeing site began as a McDonnell Douglas operation in 1988, working on both commercial and military aircraft programs, including the MD-80 and the C-17.
In other matters, the Authority also agreed to spend not more than $250,000 to clean up about 124 acres it recently acquired near the Airport South Industrial Park. The property has two abandoned buildings that will be demolished, said Kevin Brown, attorney for the authority.
Also, the authority agreed to spend $150,000 to repair the former Air National Guard building the county owns that sits in front of the airport terminal.
“The goal is to make it tenable for commercial users — to get someone in it to create jobs,” Brown said.