The Ocmulgee East Industrial Park has had many roles over the years. What is now an Industrial Park was once an Army base known as Camp Wheeler which housed and trained over 200,000 U.S. military members during World War I and World War II. Currently, it holds some of the largest industries in the Macon-Bibb County area.
Camp Wheeler officially opened its doors on July 18, 1917, as a temporary training ground for members of the National Guard. It was operational until April 10, 1919, just after WWI ended, and the 21,480 acres of land that was used for the tent camp was returned to its owners. But that wasn’t the end of Camp Wheeler.
The second time the camp opened was roughly 20 years later, on October 8, 1940. This time, the base was used as an infantry replacement camp for WWII. Over the course of five years, 25,000 military members could be found at any given time on the base. Camp Wheeler became a central hub in three categories: a cantonment area, a maneuver area, and a main impact area for the troops residing.
The camp was so popular that in 1944, Bob Hope came to visit the base to entertain the armed forces. Soon after the war, the base closed on January 19, 1946, and the 14,000+ acres of land were once again returned to the owners.
The land underwent other transformations over the years from its title as the Herbert Smart Airport to becoming what we know it as today—Ocmulgee East Industrial Park.
Ocmulgee Industrial Park has flourished over the years as one of the most prosperous industrial parks in Macon-Bibb County. As this land initially was a hub for military men who were known as global citizens, it is fitting that it has become an assembly of international industries. Industries such as Japanese YKK and Italian Dixon Ticonderoga Company have made Macon-Bibb County their home. The Industrial Park is also home to locally known staples like GEICO, Blue Bird Corporation, and Star Snacks.
This park began growing in 1972 when YKK purchased the land to build their first American facility. Since then, names like Johns Manville, Old Dominion, Mr. Chips, and All Clear (formerly Kellstrom Defense Aerospace) have joined the Ocmulgee East ranks.
Today, over 7,800 citizens of Macon-Bibb County call Ocmulgee East Industrial Park their place of work—that is 5% of the population!
We are overjoyed to have this industrial park in our community and not only honor what it has done, but admire how it has served Middle Georgia, and the world – in the past and the present. We know the future for this area will be as beneficial to the Macon-Bibb County landscape as it was in its Camp Wheeler days.