South Metro Development Conference

Area around airport to impact future of all southside counties

by W. Winston Skinner


Joseph Folz, left, of Porsche, chats with Pedro Cherry of Georgia Power during a break at South Metro Development Outlook. Behind them is moderator Jahnee Prince.

The word “aeropolis” contains hints of both “airport” and “metropolis,” and the aeropolis surrounding Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport will impact the future of all the southside Atlanta counties — including Coweta.

The area around the airport was a major focus during the recent South Metro Development Outlook Conference. The meeting, held at the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park and sponsored by The Collaborative Firm, included a session on the potential of the Hartsfield-Jackson aeropolis.

The area around the airport “defies county lines,” noted Candace Boothby, president of the Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce and one of the Cowetans attending the Feb. 20 conference.

“This phenomenon is now known internationally by the term ‘aeropolis,’ meaning an area that functions like its own city due to its commonality,” Boothby explained. “This nexus naturally flows outward, and Coweta County is perfectly aligned to experience the benefits.”

Ceasar Mitchell, president of the Atlanta City Council, talked about the possibilities — and the challenges — of the aeropolis. “We’ve got to think differently about how and where we develop,” he said.

Mitchell referred to the founding of the Airport Aeropolis Alliance, a task force “led by key public and private entities.”

The airport area has tremendous potential as a generator of economic growth, he said.

Development around a major airport “can thrive nowhere more than it can here,” Mitchell said. “We have the busiest airport in the planet. There is no place in the world you can’t get to.”

Mitchell said the vibrancy of the aeropolis provides opportunities to stem the tendency of developers to look north of Atlanta. As the aeropolis grows and continues to attract quality projects, the southside impediment is “flipped into opportunities,” Mitchell postulated.

Pedro Cherry, vice president of community and economic development with Georgia Power, said his company has been doing economic development work in the state since 1927. A focus on “access to markets” is part of the company’s strategy.

“That’s why Hartsfield-Jackson is so important to our efforts,” Cherry said. “We look forward to this being a hub and helping Georgia grow.”

There still is a place for each entity within the aeropolis to market its own advantages. Boothby said the Newnan-Coweta Chamber’s “Prosperity’s Front Door” campaign “is perfectly matched to the regional growth of the aeropolis.” She said the branding campaign “speaks with one voice and couldn’t have been launched at a better time.”

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