New Atlanta Aerotropolis Alliance seeks Airport-area growth

Filed in Events, News by on March 31, 2014
Pedro Cherry of Georgia power, Joe Folz of Porsche and Douglas Hooker of the ARC.

Pedro Cherry of Georgia power, Joe Folz of Porsche and Douglas Hooker of the ARC.

Hartsfield-Jackson Interim General Manager Miguel Southwell has announced a new initiative to spur development of high-quality corporate space in the communities surrounding the Airport.

“It’s my belief that an airport is a community’s chief economic development tool for the creation of jobs and the growth of wealth for its residents,” Southwell said at a crowded March 28 press conference to herald the official launch of the Atlanta Aerotropolis Alliance.

“Aerotropolis” – a word that literally means “airport city” ‑ is an urban environment that develops around an airport. And the goal of the new alliance, Southwell explained, is to help foster that development.

“The Alliance will play a major role in forging Hartsfield-Jackson into an even stronger economic development tool,” added Southwell, who was joined with local elected officials, business leaders and representatives from the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC). “The Alliance will help our airport and its surrounding areas become not just a hub for air transit, but a major hub for commerce and economic opportunity.”

The push for an ATL-centric aerotropolis began in earnest following the 2011 announcement by Porsche that it would relocate its North American headquarters from Sandy Springs to the former site of the Ford auto plant a stone’s throw from the Airport’s northeastern edge. The luxury car maker is currently building a $100 million state-of-the-art office complex, complete with a test track.

“Our dramatic new facility will be the first thing visitors to Atlanta see when they leave the Airport,” said Joe Folz, Secretary and General Counsel of Porsche Cars North America.

Folz, who’ll serve as the first chairman of the Aerotropolis Alliance, touted Hartsfield-Jackson as the “best, best-located and best-managed airport in the world.”

Southwell and Folz were joined at the event by Pedro Cherry, Vice President of Community and Economic Development for Georgia Power; College Park Mayor Jack Longino; Clayton County Commission Chairman Jeff Turner; and Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell, as well as Kerry Armstrong and Douglas Hooker, respectively the Board Chairman and Executive Director of the ARC, which helped foster the creation of the Aerotropolis Alliance.

“An airport can and should be a central business district in itself,” said Hooker. “We can have denser development with better jobs.”

Added Armstrong: “Hartsfield-Jackson is more than just the busiest airport in the world. It is an absolutely critical cog in metro Atlanta’s economy. The region has a tremendous opportunity to attract global companies and increase the amount and the quality of development around our airport through the formation of this new alliance.”

While the Aerotropolis Alliance will not directly serve as a property developer, its members will use their influence and connections to recruit other corporations to relocate near the Airport to take advantage of proximity to its 2,500 average daily flights and cargo logistics network.

Another selling point of the area, said Folz: “This is where land is available.”

The Atlanta Aerotropolis Alliance is a 501(c)6 organization; its board representation includes: Porsche Cars North America, Georgia Power, Delta Air Lines, Prologis, Duke Realty, Grove Street Partners, Invest Atlanta, Clayton County, Fulton County, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, City of College Park, City of East Point, City of Hapeville, Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, Atlanta Area Chamber of Commerce, Clayton Chamber of Commerce, South Fulton Chamber of Commerce, and Woodward Academy.

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