Project Synergy a Win-Win for Air Force, Robins, Middle Georgia communities

  • Published
  • By Faye Banks-Anderson
  • Robins Public Affairs

We called. They answered.

For 80 years, Robins Air Force Base and the Middle Georgia community have had a unique and fruitful relationship.  

So when it became clear that the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex 402nd Software Engineering Group needed space to cultivate an environment where new and existing Air Force software workloads are unencumbered by legacy infrastructure, tool limitations and restrictive communication networks, community and base leaders worked together for the best possible outcome – an off-base facility to meet the need.

On March 22, 2021, Project Synergy at The R. Wayne Lowe Synergy Innovation Complex opened. The park is named in recognition of Lowe, who passed last December, and his many contributions to Robins AFB and the local community. 

Project Synergy is the result of partnerships with the WR-ALC and its 402nd Software Engineering Group, 78th Air Base Wing, Houston County Development Authority, Houston County Board of Education and Career Academy, Houston County Board of Commissioners, 21st Century Partnership, Mayor Randy Toms and Wayne Lowe.

It’s a significant leap forward for the 402nd SWEG, and another boost for Robins to support the national defense and mission readiness, said Lt. Gen. Gene Kirkland, Air Force Sustainment Center commander.

“Project Synergy now joins an expanded software capability enterprise to support the Department of Defense,” said Kirkland. “It’s a down payment on our software plans to add 250 software jobs to operations here.”

The general said he’s especially looking forward to high school students and the future workforce in Warner Robins and surrounding areas to benefit from the educational investment and the opportunity for good jobs.

Project Synergy will provide work spaces for about 160 scientists and engineers of the 402nd SWEG. It provides nearly 43,000 square feet for various partners to operate a classroom, training spaces, software development environments and a 9,000-square-foot secure lab space as well.

Included in the space is a classroom for up to 40 students and offices for the Houston County Board of Education who intends to utilize the space as it grows its Career Academy and dual enrollment program. It also provides space for the SWEG to increase its intern program as a STEM pipeline for future full-time employees.

Kirkland explained that this facility is a shining example of what makes the Robins and Middle Georgia relationship so unique. When base leadership articulated the need for a software and engineering capability, the community answered the call.

“I often say the best communities make the best bases, and it’s no truer than Robins Air Force Base in Middle Georgia,” said Kirkland.

Tommy Stalnaker, Houston County Board of Commissioners chairman, agreed, while talking about the origins of Project Synergy and specifically about the contributions of Lowe.

Stalnaker recalled how he and Chrissy Miner, then the 21st Century president and CEO and now The Miner agency owner/principal, met with then Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex commander, Brig. Gen. John Kubinec, who is now the 21st Century Partnership president and CEO, and Col. Brian Moore, Robins Installation commander, to find out what the base needed. That meeting was Oct. 16, 2019.

On Oct. 22, 2019, a small group of community leaders approached Lowe about purchasing a building in the Park area, according to Stalnaker. Lowe sold the building to the Houston County Development Authority at a reduced rate. The base now leases the facility from the development authority.

Stalnaker said Lowe was so excited and wanted to get it done right away. He further stressed that Lowe was always advocating for the base, always pushing for the community and elected officials to do more for the installation.

Within a few months all the agreements with the base were done, and on Dec. 30, 2019, the deed was executed. On March 5, 2020, Project Synergy was announced.

So a year and 18 days later, the community and base leaders stood at the same location as the original announcement for the ribbon cutting of the now completed facility.

It’s a gem of a facility that’s going to support the troops of this nation for many, many years to come, said Stalnaker.

Then Stalnaker spoke directly to the Lowe family in attendance saying, “Your dad helped a lot of people and he helped make this possible. He gave so much to this community, always supporting Robins Air Force Base.

“He was a person who was a doer and not a talker,” continued Stalnaker. “He made things happen.”

Kirkland agreed when talking about Lowe and the community as well.

“Robins would not exist without the patriotism and partnership across eight decades of Middle Georgia history,” he said. “Today, the ribbon cutting would not have happened without that same spirit of unity and purpose.”