From the time I first heard the concept, I’ve been intrigued — a coalition of communities around Mitchell International Airport working together to promote economic development around this valuable transportation resource.
The Daily Reporter has a story on the concept — and the move afoot to unite interested parties to move forward on it — on its website. Check it out here.
The Airport Gateway Business Association is a key driver of the initiative locally, and, according to the story, it seeks to “form a nonprofit business called Milwaukee Gateway Aerotropolis Corp. that would attempt to attract businesses to the area around General Mitchell. The nonprofit corporation would collect money from municipalities to draft plans for the area, promote it to businesses and seek state and federal grants for development projects.”
The goal: Attract a cluster of aviation-oriented businesses around Mitchell International to create an “airport city” that drives economic development in surrounding communities … including the South Shore.
You can learn more about the concept on the website of John D. Kasarda, a leading national proponent of the concept, here. From his site:
Airports will shape business location and urban development in the 21st century as much as highways did in the 20th century, railroads in the 19th and seaports in the 18th.”
Why? He adds:
Major airports are key nodes for global production and enterprise systems offering them speed, agility, and accessibility. They are also powerful engines for local economic development attracting aviation-linked businesses of all types to their environs. These include, among others, time-sensitive manufacturing and distribution; hotel, entertainment, retail, and exhibition complexes; and office buildings that house regional corporate headquarters and air-travel intensive professionals.
As aviation-oriented businesses cluster around these airports and along transportation corridors radiating from them, a new urban form is emerging — the Aerotropolis.
What an opportunity, one I’m glad is getting some traction locally.
From the Daily Reporter story:
The Gateway business association is asking for representatives of eight area municipalities, Milwaukee County, General Mitchell and the Port of Milwaukee to serve on the nonprofit company’s board, pledge to dedicate city planners’ time to its efforts and raise $5,000 to run the business. The airport business association would dedicate $15,000 to the effort.
I’d like to see South Milwaukee take part in this.
I support taking a regional perspective to economic development, working with area communities and organizations, when possible, to grow the entire area. Certainly, there are times when cities have to be self-interested when looking to grow, but more often than not partnerships are the preferred route to economic development. Working in isolation, too often we all lose.
The South Shore Economic Development Consortium is a great example of the possibility of partnership. The Aerotropolis has the potential to be another.