When it comes to assistance in marketing a region, it doesn’t get much better than a luxury auto brand singing your praises.
That’s what Atlanta has in Porsche, whose move of its North American headquarters near the airport was the impetus of a new effort to revitalize the surrounding area.
“You couldn’t have a better neighbor than Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport,” Joe Folz, Porsche Cars North America’s general counsel and the chairman of the new Atlanta Aerotropolis Alliance, told a group of visiting Amsterdam Airport Area officials last week.
The fact that Mr. Folz is a business leader entrusted with telling the airport area’s story impressed officials from the airport arm of Schiphol Airport Development Corp., which helps plan development at what has become the quintessential airport-city area in Europe.
“Sometimes it’s actually quite difficult to find commercial organizations to speak out, to be the ambassador for the organization. Porsche is now the chair of this organization,” Joep Shroeders, the Amsterdam group’s international marketing and acquisitions manager, told Global Atlanta after a closed-door briefing with Atlanta Aerotropolis Alliance stakeholders at Georgia Power’s Midtown resource center.
Olav Steffers, another Dutch delegate who spent the day touring the Atlanta airport area, agreed.
“We want them to tell the story. It’s better than us telling the story,” said Mr. Steffers, international marketing director for Amsterdam Airport Area.
Amsterdam has a significant one to tell. The Schiphol airport area is one of the closest in the world to its city center – about a seven-minute train ride to some upscale business parks – and it capitalizes on proximity by combining it with an array of dedicated infrastructure for airport-dependent enterprises. New facilities and business parks are always weighed based on whether they offer a new value proposition for companies.
“We have to be demand-driven, because before 2008 we could just sit back and the end user would come buy a lot of land,” Mr. Schroeders said.
The main clusters around the airport include aerospace and logistics, with the airport, the Port of Amsterdam, a green port for the flower industry and a data port all nearby. That combination is a draw for international companies using the airport, Mr. Steffers said.
“They want to optimize their supply chain. If you can arrange with the Port of Amsterdam a good connection, it’s a benefit for the company, and that’s what you want.”
The greater Amsterdam area is strong in floristry, creative industries, corporate headquarters, IT, services and more. Amsterdam Airport Area officials work closely with the metro area’s overall marketing arm, Iamsterdam, to stay abreast of development trends.
“We speak with all the international companies located in our area – what’s going good, what’s going wrong, what are our strength, what are our weaknesses,” Mr. Schroeders said.
SADC’s ownership structure also forces collaboration: Shareholders include the airports company, the Schiphol Group, the municipality of Haarlemmermeer and the province of North Holland.
That experience can help the aerotropolis alliance in Atlanta, which is playing catch-up in formulating a unified marketing strategy and still hasn’t fleshed out its funding structure completely, despite naming a board that brings a variety of stakeholders on board. At the briefing in Atlanta, both organizations said they look forward to future collaborations.
The Netherlands American Chamber of Commerce Southeast in Atlanta will provide a venue Oct. 23 for further discussion as Mr. Folz and Atlanta Regional Commission Executive Director Doug Hooker come together to discuss the aerotropolis concept. Sign up here.