Employment & Economy in Houston County
Thanks to an 1821 treaty between the state of Georgia and the Creek Indians, lucky land lottery winners began moving into the newly minted Houston County that same year, claiming tracts for about 7 cents an acre and starting to plow the fertile, sandy loam for corn, wheat, potatoes and fresh garden vegetables. The county took its name from Gov. John Houstoun, one of the original Sons of Liberty of the American Revolution. And though over the years the spelling has been slimmed to “Houston,” it’s still pronounced the way he did: “HOW-ston.”
Rail and Transit Access
Georgia’s first railroad tracks were laid in the mid-1830s on routes leading from Athens, Augusta, Macon and Savannah. Some 25 years later, the state not only could claim more rail miles than any other in the Deep South but also had linked its major towns and created a new rail center in Atlanta. In the early 1900s, a tiny train made its way into Houston County. Its first stop, named Wellston in honor of William H. Wells, the chief engineer of the Georgia Southern and Florida Railroad, was built on land that is now known as Robins Air Force Base and Middle Georgia Regional Airport. After that, the railroads continued to expand until the 1920s, when a long decline began that lasted into the 1990s. Today, the state’s rail system is a strong, 5,000-mile network anchored by two major lines, Norfolk Southern and CSX, and a couple dozen short lines.
By the 1880s, Houston County had become the largest peach-growing county in the United States, according to the Georgia Department of Agriculture. The county’s rural roots are celebrated to this day at public venues like the Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter in Perry, the county seat, and smaller private enterprises such as nurseries, roadside produce stands, farmers markets and garden clubs.
These days, though, agriculture is far overshadowed by manufacturing and Robins Air Force Base, Georgia’s largest single industrial complex with approximately 22,000 workers, an annual $1.38 billion payroll and a $2.87 billion contribution to the Georgia economy in fiscal 2017, an $11 million increase over fiscal 2016.
Abundant labor and easy transportation have drawn other industries over the years, but the two biggest boosts to the economy were the Army’s 1941 selection of level cotton fields near the railroad stop of Wellston for a depot, named Robins Field in memory of Brig. Gen. Augustine Warner Robins, onetime spy and the Air Force’s “Father of Logistics,” and the decision to run Interstate 75 north-south through the county under the direction of another hero general, then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower, “Father of the Interstate Highway System.”
Amid World War II and security demands extending into the 21st century, Robins Field evolved into Robins Air Force Base, home of the Air Force Materiel Command’s Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex, worldwide manager of aircraft, engines, missiles, software and avionics and accessories — and the engine for much of middle Georgia’s economic growth.
And growth has boomed. The U.S. Census estimated that in 2017 more than 153,000 people lived in Houston County in its three largest towns — Warner Robins, Perry and Centerville — plus its unincorporated communities and rural areas. Nearly 90 percent of residents over 25 held at least a high school diploma, and about a quarter had attained a bachelor’s degree or higher. More than 17,000 veterans called “Georgia’s Most Progressive County” home. Per capita personal income was $25,289, and the median household income was $55,480, higher than the state’s $51,037 the census said.
According to the Houston County Development Authority, other target industries that drive the region’s economy include aerospace, advanced manufacturing, food processing, distribution, and logistics and agribusiness.
Robins Air Force Base
Nearly 25 percent of the jobs in Houston County are at Robins Air Force Base. The approximately 22,000 people who work there — including military, civil service and private contractors — make the base the largest employer in Georgia. Robins Air Force Base is estimated to have an annual economic impact of almost $2.9 billion in the state of Georgia, according to the 2016 Robins Air Force Base Economic Impact Statement.
At the national level, websites such as www.monster.com, www.careerbuilder.com, www.linkedin.com and www.indeed.com have extensive search capabilities as well as resume tips, forum support and professional networking options.
The National Military Spouse Network, a networking, mentoring and professional development organization, has a wealth of career information at its website, www.nationalmilitaryspousenetwork.org. The group aims to help military spouses build a meaningful, sustained career path and offers a library of articles that touch on topics like entrepreneurship, resume tips, self-promotion and more as well as a membership-only discussion forum. The organization also features companies that are military spouse-owned or military spouse-friendly on its Homefront Business Listings page.
Georgia Department of Labor – Houston County Career Center
96 Cohen Walker Drive
Warner Robins, GA 31088 478-988-7130
The GDOL helps job applicants in areas from resume preparation to job listings to labor laws with tools available on the department’s website. Veterans can find information and assistance, ranging from career and employment counseling to direct job referrals, job search workshops and support services at https://dol.georgia.gov/find-veteran-assistance-and-information.
The GDOL also operates a statewide network of local career centers, providing a wide range of services to job seekers and employers. The centers offer tools to find and keep a job that’s just right for you. The Warner Robins career center website is https://dol.georgia.gov/location/houston-county.
Team Georgia Careers
The official state career website, Team Georgia Careers lists job opportunities with Georgia state government. In addition to this careers website, the state offers professional development, specialized training, coaching and mentoring opportunities, succession planning, tuition assistance for specialized jobs within specific organizations, and cross-agency team stretch assignments.
200 Carl Vinson Parkway
Warner Robins, GA 31088 478-542-2005
Current Houston County job opportunities are posted online, and applications are available for download.
Middle Georgia Workforce Development
124 Osigian Blvd., Suite A
Warner Robins, GA 31088 478-953-4771
Middle Georgia Workforce Development is a local association of workforce development agencies, business leaders and other partners that seeks to improve the labor market success of Middle Georgians. The board’s website has employment resources, including training and career services, job search assistance, job announcements and more. The group serves residents of 10 counties, among them Houston County.
Perry Chamber of Commerce
101 Gen. Courtney Hodges Blvd.
Perry, GA 31069 478-987-1234
The Perry Chamber of Commerce’s Military Affairs Committee supports Robins Air Force Base families and events; the “Where to Work” link on the home page connects to job postings.
Robins Regional Chamber
1228 Watson Blvd.
Warner Robins, GA 31093 478-922-8585
The Robins Regional Chamber has an abundance of information for those seeking work in the Houston County area. The chamber’s website has a special section for military and aerospace resources under “Programs.”
City of Centerville
300 E. Church St.
Centerville, GA 31028 478-953-4734
Job announcements are posted on the city’s website. Look for “Current Job Announcements” on the Job Opportunities page.
City of Perry
1211 Washington St.
Perry, GA 31069 478-988-2713
Current job openings for Perry are posted online, along with employment policies and applications.
City of Warner Robins
700 Watson Blvd.
Warner Robins, GA 31093 478-293-1000
Current employment opportunities are posted on the Warner Robins website.
An employment agency can offer posts ranging from high-level administration to warehouse work. Many employers use agencies as their human resources department. Agencies advertise, interview, test and manage payroll. A temp-to-perm arrangement allows the employer and prospective employee to evaluate each other before committing to permanent employment.
Municipal and regional chambers of commerce include local employment agencies in their member lists, along with contact information. See Page 18 for a list of chambers of commerce in Houston County.
Always keep your resume up-to-date and have several versions that target specific industries and highlight your skills that fit their job descriptions.
Compile several reference lists with a good variety of people and former business associates. Be sure to first ask each if you can use them as references.
Compose a comprehensive, catchy and succinct cover letter of no more than a page (this is no place to ramble). It will introduce you and your desire to work for the company. Have a knowledgeable friend check it for errors; misspelled words and bad grammar hint at carelessness and indifference. Know what the company does, and highlight skills, work experience and education that apply to the position.
Maintain a positive, professional and broad-based presence on social media such as Facebook and LinkedIn; almost all employers search social media sites to vet job candidates, and your absence there will raise red flags. Also be aware that images and comments posted spur-of-the-moment can be searched out forever and come back to haunt you.
Be prepared for an interview at any time. When you submit your application, a supervisor may want to talk immediately, or the phone may ring with a call from a hiring director. Compose — and rehearse — your one-minute self-promotional speech on who you are, an achievement or two and your strengths. It’s not vanity to make a good first impression. If a supervisor wants to know why she should hire you, be ready.
Always follow up with thank-you letters and calls. Even today, a letter, as well as the quick-response email, will separate you from a surprising number of the other applicants — to your advantage — and keep your name fresh in the interviewer’s mind. Judicious calls display your continued interest. Writing out beforehand what you want to say helps. So does rehearsal.
Be aware that due to the usually huge numbers of applicants, most companies are able to follow up only with candidates in whom they are interested. Don’t take it personally if you are not notified that you did not get the job.
ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE CIVILIAN OPPORTUNITIES
Visit www.usajobs.gov to search for Department of Defense jobs at Robins. Or visit the Robins AFB Civilian Personnel Office at Highway 247, Building 1524 (call 478-926-6666); go to www.robins.af.mil/Employment for more base employment information.
For information about service jobs, including openings in lodging, recreation areas and other nonappropriated fund positions, call the NAF Office at 478-926-4877 or visit www.nafjobs.org.
Go to www.commissaries.com and click on “Careers” to begin the process of applying for commissary work.
For Base Exchange jobs, visit the AAFES career page at https://tinyurl.com/y7qj6opo and search for Robins.
Robins AFB Small Business Office
The Small Business Office monitors allocation of contracts, grants and cooperative agreements for small businesses and historically black colleges and universities and minority institutions. Contact the office at 50 Richard Ray Blvd., Building 205, for information about business opportunities, project requirements and more. For more information, call 478-926-5873 or visit www.robins.af.mil/About-Us/Small-Business-Office.
University of Georgia’s Small Business Development Center
The University of Georgia’s Small Business Development Center offers small-business resources and workshops for those looking to start a business. Visit www.georgiasbdc.org or visit the center’s location in Macon at 4875 Riverside Drive in the Riverside Crossing Professional Building, Suite 202. Call 478-757-3609 for more information.
Small Business Resources
Learn the steps to start and grow a small business at USA.gov’s Small Business website. The platform features hand-picked government websites helpful to small business owners. Learn about business taxes and incentives, financing a business, importing and exporting, federal government contracting, state business resources and more. The website also provides information on a wide range of programs and services to help veterans, women, minorities and the economically disadvantaged start or grow a business.