The local governments have approved seeking almost $3.7 million in state grants for the program with East Mississippi Community College at Golden Triangle Airport. Part of the money also would be used toward a previous grant for a high-tech gun range for airmen and local law enforcement.
The city and county each would have to put up about $85,000 for the new grant; Golden Triangle Regional Airport is putting up $600,000 via the value of a hangar where the program would be housed. Columbus Air Force Base already uses the hangar for its planes and other needs.
Many current local aircraft mechanics are retiring in the next five years and job recruiters say trained local workers are needed to replace them. The state is putting up millions of dollars to help communities protect military bases from Pentagon budget cuts.