Aerotropolis Atlanta Alliance, the economic development collaborative helping the region around Hartsfield-Jackson capitalize on its growth, is now sharing more than best practices with its partners in Beijing.
During the pandemic, the organization received some 2,000 masks donated from the Beijing New Aerotropolis Holding company, which have been distributed to cities around the Atlanta airport area as they prepared to reopen after COVID-19.
That’s according to a LinkedIn post from the alliance:
AeroATL and Beijing New Aerotropolis have been working together since the former’s CEO, Shannon James, traveled from Atlanta to the Chinese capital in 2018 to scope out development activity around the Beijing Daxing International Airport, the $17 billion hub that opened in September to relieve pressure on Beijing Capital Airport.
Daxing, known for its “starfish” design with concourses branching off from a central nucleus, could serve 72 million passengers by 2025, but it plans to eventually join ATL and Beijing Capital in the 100 million-passenger club in a manner of years.
Aerotropolis Atlanta and Beijing New Aerotropolis both aim to help their respective regions capitalize on the massive real-estate and industrial potential of being situated next to giant air travel and cargo hubs.
AeroATL emerged from a yearslong initiative, kickstarted by the Atlanta Regional Commission, to remedy a paradox experienced on the southside of Atlanta: While the airport is the largest driver to regional economic activity, little was flowing to the communities just outside its gates.
The Atlanta and Beijing aerotropolis groups formalized their relationship last fall at the ninth annual Sustainable Airport Area seminar here in Atlanta, signing a memorandum of understanding on the same day the Atlanta group also extended its relationship with HubStart, a similar collaborative agency bringing together jurisdictions around Paris Charles de Gaulle airport for mutual investment promotion. Hartsfield-Jackson at the same ceremony signed an extension of a longstanding partnership with its Parisian counterpart.
Mr. James told Global Atlanta at the ceremony that he was looking forward to seeing what he could learn from an airport area starting from a clean slate. China, he said, is not immune from the problem of competing jurisdictions “operating in silos,” which has hampered the ATL airport area’s growth.
‘They’re starting the ecosystem, so we’ll be asking them a lot of questions. It’ll be a lot of information gathering at first, and then I think once we get comfortable with that piece we’ll then expand upon our relationship and figure out how to influence each other’s communities,” Mr. James said at the time, hopeful they could drive mutual investment delegations.
Luo Boming, who chairs the Beijing New Aerotropolis, told Global Atlanta at the signing ceremony that he wanted to learn from Atlanta and Paris how to make the airport area appealing to future residents. Of course, he’d like to see more business too.
“This is a question that is always giving me headache, so I’m here to learn from Mr. Shannon James how to attract business,” he said with a smile.
Mask donations went to the cities of Chattahoochee Hills, East Point, Fairburn, Forest Park, Hapeville, Jonesboro, Lake City, College Park, Riverdale, Palmetto, South Fulton and Union City.
China, where the novel coronavirus originated, also happens to be the manufacturing source of much of the world’s personal protective equipment. The country has used PPE donations to position itself as a trustworthy partner to the global community, following accusations that early coverups allowed the virus to spread unchecked around the world and become a massive pandemic.
Cases of COVID-19 globally stand at more than 8.5 million, more than a quarter of them now in the U.S. With early and widespread lockdowns, China said it had arrested its cases at about 83,300.
Travel has ground to a near standstill since these memoranda were signed, as the pandemic caused countries to shut their borders. Atlanta’s only nonstop links to China — a Delta Air Lines Inc. flight to Shanghai — is no longer operating, though Hartsfield-Jackson has been welcoming cargo flights from the Chinese city.