Press Releases

Early County 2055 Celebrates Groundbreaking of a Comprehensive, State of the Art Military and Civilian Training Facility

Groundbreaking for AIM Academy

Lisa Collins, EC2055 director of economic development (7th from left), Marc Masoner, AIM founder and CEO (8th from left), Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (9th from left), and Barton Rice, Ec2055 Executive Director (10th from left), participate in the groundbreaking ceremonies.

American International Marksmanship Academy (AIM) expected to bring as many as 400 jobs into the community

Blakely, GA – Governor Nathan Deal and more than 100 dignitaries, government officials, community members and guests took part in the recent groundbreaking ceremony for the American International Marksmanship Academy (AIM) in Blakely, Georgia – a new venture that will serve as an important foundation for Early County 2055’s ongoing Economic Development Initiative. AIM, a comprehensive, practical private shooting facility, will provide training and education to military, law enforcement agencies and civilians as well as offer professional and corporate membership packages, event opportunities and world-wide shooting competitions.  

“I am proud to be a part of this significant celebration in Early County,” said Governor Nathan Deal. “We are excited about this new venture and know that the American International Marksmanship Academy will be a real boost to the local economy, as well as the region and the state of Georgia. I want to commend the community for their hard work and dedication. This is a powerful example of how a community has joined together to help bring prosperity to the area. My sincere thanks to everyone that helped make this happen."

“Negotiations and planning for an Early County/AIM partnership began in July, 2010, when the Georgia Department of Economic Development earmarked Early County as a possible home for AIM Academy,” said Lisa Collins, director of economic development for Early County 2055, a comprehensive, 50-year Economic Development Initiative. “AIM Academy will be an anchor for a number of partnerships with military bases in Georgia and the southeastern region of the country.  We also expect to see an influx of related businesses that will establish themselves in the area. This is a great opportunity for the local community, the region and the state of Georgia.”

The company chose Early County as its headquarters because of the proximity to military bases such as Fort Benning, GA and Fort Rucker, AL, which will benefit from the new training facility. AIM’s long-term strategy is to provide military and government specialized operations training, National Guard and Reserve Unit training for specific overseas deployment and security training for civilian operations. AIM expects to offer approximately 100 immediate employment opportunities to area residents, 200 jobs after two years, and up to 400 jobs when the facility is fully operational.

Marc Masoner, AIM founder and president/CEO, says he is not only excited about being in Early County, he is confident that AIM will be a premier, nationally renowned training site for military, law enforcement and civilians. “Our facilities will provide superlative training by a world-class pool of instructors,” Masoner said. “We want to give our customers real world experience so they will know what to expect and how to handle situations that requires defense training.”  

Instructors will be drawn from a top-notch pool of law enforcement and military experts, according to Masoner. “We have hired a group of instructors who have on-the-ground experience – ranger regiment soldiers, Special Forces and navy seals and others who have performed in a variety of combat theaters,” he said.

AIM Academy is located off of Highway 27 northeast of Blakely, Georgia on 2,300 acres of land.  The training facilities will have three separate training areas, including the only 1,000 meter range in the area which will be used for advanced military training. Curriculum will include sophisticated lifesaving skills, evasive and defensive techniques, dignitary protection, organization training, HALO instruction and a 5,400 foot, state-of-the-art air strip will used for various training including Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

There will also be civilian membership programs, education and safety training, events and competitions. “A new 1300 acre civilian shooting facility, the Wiregrass Plantation Rod and Gun Club, will be located on the property,” according to Masoner. “Club members will enjoy regularly scheduled pistol and rifle competitions, clay shooting sporting events and a great pro-shop.”

Collins says having the AIM Academy in Early County will have an enormous impact on the area. "The new military training center in Early County will be an asset for the Fort Benning military base, which is the home of the Army’s Infantry School and is the sixth largest Army post in the country. With the expansion of Fort Benning, as the result of military base shifts and closures, and the development of its Maneuver Center of Excellence, just the Columbus area alone expects about 28,000 service members and civilians to relocate to the region,” Collins said. “We are hoping to be a south anchor community for Fort Benning, as they move and expand their borders. Hopefully, they will choose to move south, along the U. S. Highway 27 corridor, as land is plentiful and will fit into their overall plans for future development."
The initiative complements the overall mission of Early County 2055, an economic revitalization project and a long-term effort to protect the area’s foundation and to build and maintain a thriving economic future. “We are thrilled about this announcement and proud that so many people witnessed the groundbreaking event,” said Collins. “AIM Academy is a great fit with our plans to bring new businesses into Early County that will play a big part in attaining sustainable, quality economic growth in the area.”

Barton Rice, the executive director of Early County 2055 and a major investor of the AIM development, agrees. “This event is very exciting for the entire Early County community. Everyone has worked hard to make this economic revitalization project obtain traction, and the cooperation of the community has been wonderful. Our efforts are paying off.  We welcome AIM Academy and thank them for their support.”

We have the Georgia Department of Economic Development to thank for introducing AIM executives to the Early County team,” said Ms. Collins. “There is great synergy in this partnership.”