Coweta is a sought-after community for businesses and developers, in part because of its close proximity to the the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, and aerotropolis will promote the concept even further.
An aerotropolis is a metropolitan subregion whose infrastructure, land-use, and economy are centered on the airport, according to a dissertation by John D. Kasarda with The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The Aerotropolis Atlanta Alliance
The Aerotropolis Atlanta Alliance exists to help promote area assets, and thus improve the commonly held image and perception of the south-metropolitan area, according to Shelley Lamar, executive director of the alliance.
Lamar said the alliance is helping bring businesses and investors to populate aerotropolis. Lamar said it’s important to understand that aerotropolis is a concept of thriving businesses in the metro area with Hartsfield-Jackson as the hub.
“First, the Alliance has helped formalize and strengthen regional partnerships and collaboration among airport communities,” Lamar said. “The organization’s board includes investors and stakeholders such as elected officials, educational institutions and businesses from Fulton and Clayton counties, and the cities of East Point, Hapeville, College Park and Forest Park. While the members have parochial concerns, they realize they can be more effective if they work together in terms of marketing the region and attracting investment.”
How aerotropolis will affect Coweta
Lamar said when it comes to prospects, particularly to international companies, easy access to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is usually a major selling point for the area.
“Any initiative that helps promote and enhance the airport area will have a ripple effect into Coweta County and throughout the entire south metro area,” Lamar said. “This will give us more opportunities to compete for the quality jobs and companies that will be attracted to an enhanced airport region.”
Coweta County Development Authority President Greg Wright believes the effect will be positive for Coweta.
“As we talk to prospects, particularly to international companies, easy access to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is a huge selling point for our area,” Wright said. “Any initiative that helps promote and enhance the airport area will have a ripple effect into Coweta County and throughout the entire south metro area. This will give us more opportunities to compete for the quality jobs and companies that will be attracted to an enhanced airport region.”
Lamar said in order for the concept to reach its full potential, more work needs to be done.
“In the area immediately surrounding the airport, proper, broad economic success hasn’t taken hold,” Lamar said. “Sure, there are some vibrant businesses, restaurants and homes, but historically, the area has underperformed most of the other submarkets in metro Atlanta. Generally, this part of the region has been overlooked by site selectors, consultants and business leaders considering Atlanta for relocations, expansions and investment. Our aim is to focus a spotlight on this part of our region, feature the amazing assets and opportunities we have, tell the stories of our neighboring cities and neighborhoods, and raise the profile of Aerotropolis Atlanta.”
The Aerotropolis Atlanta Alliance is now in its fourth year, but Lamar said it was not “born overnight.”
“It took several years to bring together the business community and elected officials toward this common goal/purpose,” she said.
Lamar said new jobs will also come to the area because of aerotropolis.
“We want to prepare current residents for the new jobs that will come to this area,” she said. “Toward that goal, we have already begun working with a few of our target industries on workforce development education initiatives. We are also launching an education initiative in which we will be working with schools (K – 12), as well as the higher education institutions within the aerotropolis area to better prepare our youth for the jobs of the future.”
Looking to the future
The benefits of businesses locating in a functional aerotropolis are “bountiful and obvious because of easy access to global customers and suppliers with relatively short transport times,” according to Kasarda.
"It's just the way we are going to move forward because you can not stop globalization. You have the business development, and the rooftops will follow," Kasarda said.
Lamar said aerotropolis is an “economic development initiative, not a project,” and thus has no end date.
Lamar said companies and individuals relocating to Atlanta or considering a move/expansion within the metro area would benefit from the progress that’s being made in the aerotropolis area for many reasons.
“We have fantastic access to three major interstates,” she said. “We have five MARTA stations within our current footprint to help us connect to jobs and neighborhoods throughout the region, with additional stations proposed under the expansion of MARTA into Clayton County.”
Other assets within aerotropolis Lamar mentioned include:
- • several major corporate headquarters for global brands, including Delta Air Lines, Chick-fil-A and Porsche Cars North America
- • Georgia International Convention Center, a world-class convention space
- • major new developments, including Airport City
- • the new Hawks arena in College Park
- • the Solis Hotel at Porsche in Hapeville (under construction)
- • the Ashbury Park mixed-use development in Hapeville
- • additional hotel at the Gateway Center
- • plans for development at the Fort McPherson mixed-use site
- • the completion of Tyler Perry Studios
- • several building projects at Fort Gillem
“The aerotropolis concept is being utilized around several airports, both in the U.S. and abroad,” Lamar said. “With our proximity to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport we have the best asset.”
For more information about the Aerotropolis Alliance, visit www.aeroatl.org .