Hartsfield to become ‘airport city’

Everyone knows Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is the world’s busiest. It serves 250,000 travelers and moves 2,000 metric tons of freight daily. It is Georgia’s economic engine, directly responsible for more than 50,000 jobs and indirectly responsible for thousands more.

Passenger and cargo traffic is increasing dramatically. Hartsfield-Jackson’s positive impact will continue growing. We need to use the airport’s power to deliver maximum economic benefit and prepare it to power Georgia’s economy for decades. It makes sense to use this asset to generate development in surrounding communities.

Atlanta Aerotropolis Alliance members are committed to creating a community around the airport that will attract corporate headquarters, businesses, retail and housing. Development will improve the lives of everyone in adjacent communities. Places with less to offer than metro Atlanta have used airports as anchors for thriving communities. Our airport is bigger, better and closer to our city. Its neighbors need and want jobs.

The seeds of the Alliance were planted during the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Fifty Forward visioning effort. Participants all cited the importance of development around Hartsfield-Jackson. That idea was incorporated into ARC’s PLAN 2040. ARC engaged local governments, chambers of commerce, businesses and others in the airport vicinity to build support. Now, we have an organization to help develop an aerotropolis with Hartsfield-Jackson as its centerpiece.

Our aerotropolis is further along than some might think. Delta Air Lines, Chick-fil-A and other companies have their headquarters near the airport; Porsche is proud to join them there. There will be redevelopment not only at the old Ford plant site, but also a logistics hub at Fort Gillem and new airport hotels with promises of more to come. The Aerotropolis Alliance will bring local government and business leaders to the same table. Together, we will create a vibrant business hub and gateway to the region.

Alliance members have identified several goals. We will enhance aesthetics, branding and safety around the airport and in nearby communities by improving signage, cleaning up roadways and so on. Funding will come from members and, potentially, from the new Airport West Community Improvement District and other CIDs that will be formed. The Alliance will sponsor an international airport development conference that will attract hundreds of global airport and development professionals to see the potential power of an aerotropolis in metro Atlanta.

Morevoer, the Alliance will create a blueprint for development and a marketing strategy to attract high-wage technology, manufacturing, cargo and logistics companies. Government and business leaders know development in any area near the airport will improve the quality of life in all of them.

Our commitment to better amenities and more livable communities will attract more top companies to the area. Porsche is excited about the opportunities in our new neighborhood. We are confident the entire region will support the Atlanta Aerotropolis Alliance.

Joseph Folz is general counsel and secretary for Porsche Cars North America.