Clayton’s future tied to airport-area growth, Chairman Turner says

Clayton County’s top government official said Wednesday the county’s future must be aligned with the development taking place in and around Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, which sits in Clayton’s backyard.

“The market around the airport has often lagged the rest of the region and has developed with little cohesive strategy and overall identity,” Turner said in his State of the County address at Clayton State University.”The Atlanta Aerotropolis Alliance, which we are members of, aims to change that by transforming the airport vicinity into a world-class Aerotropolis, making the area more attractive to international corporations, logistics companies and others.”

Turner’s address was the fifth state of the county address of a metro county hosted so far this year by the Council for Quality Growth, a regional association that works to promote economic development throughout the region and is turning it focus more to the southside. The gathering of about 250 drew leaders from government, business and education.

Turner highlighted several areas in his address:

Economic Development: The county hired a new economic development director Courtney Pogue. Pogue plans bring about 1,000 jobs to Clayton and $50 million in investments this year. The film industry invested about a quarter-million dollars in Clayton last year. Some 17 film and television productions were filmed in the county, including “Alvin & The Chipmunks”, “Captain America” and “Sleepy Hollow.” More than two million square feet of industrial space was absorbed last year and some 50 to 100 jobs were created each month.

Tourism: With Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Clayton’s backyard, tourism has been lucrative for Clayton. Visitors spent about $1.3 billion in the county in 2014, the latest data available. “Every time a plane lands, the county gets a visitor,” Turner said. “Their spending saves you money.”

Transportation: With MARTA back, the county has turned its attention to other transportation-related projects such as the Flint River Road/Point South Parkway corridor. Construction should begin later this year and be finished in late 2018.

Turner told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution now that MARTA has been revived in Clayton he plans to turn his attention to workforce development so that workers will be able to be matched with the high-paying jobs making their way to the county.

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