The Atlanta Development Authority’s president and CEO, Brian McGowan, took his vision of the future of Atlanta and its airport to Paris recently.
During a Nov. 22 presentation to officials of Hubstart Paris, which represents Charles De Gaulle and Le Bourget airports in the Paris suburb of Roissy, he said that economic growth in the 21st century would come from cities, especially as job creators.
And the cities that are able to “efficiently and effectively move people, goods and information,” he said, would be the winners.
Atlanta and Paris have numerous links already with the France-Atlanta Project of the past two years bringing French artists, businesspeople, officials and scientists here.
Additionally, he noted that their legacies as aviation pioneers trace back to the early 20th century.
While providing a retrospective on the history of the airport, he cited the career of Charles Lindbergh, who in 1924 flew his first solo flight at Southern Field in Americus and three years later crossed the Atlantic in the Spirit of St. Louis.
A cheering throng of French admirers greeted Mr. Lindberg’s landing at Le Bourget and later in the year he came to Candler Field, Hartsfield’s predecessor, during a triumphal tour of the United States with the Spirit of St. Louis. That visit, according to Mr. McGowan, became a key factor in spurring the further development of what would become Hartsfield-Jackson.
Today as modern gateway cities, he said, Atlanta and Paris need to make the most of their air facilities and should work together to build “a different kind of economy and a different kind of growth from the rubble of this recession.”
He cited the memorandum of understanding signed by Atlanta mayor, Kasim Reed, with Hubstart officials in July to have the airports officials work together closely.
The wide-ranging proposal calls for economic development initiatives such as encouraging companies near the airports to explore trans-Atlantic opportunities, to attract companies from emerging countries to their regions and to create an international network of areas around airports.
While striving to reach these goals, he said that Atlanta and Paris would need to work together and share best practices with an emphasis on promoting exports, adopt clean energy resources and encourage research and development.
The cities’ airports already are firmly connected, he said, with Paris being the number one international destination from Hartsfield-Jackson based on the number of seats sold.
Also, both airports serve as primary gateways for the SkyTeam air carrier alliance including Air France and Delta Air Lines Inc.
Atlanta and Hartsfield have impressive economic credentials, which he enumerated including its contribution to the local economy: $32.6 billion revenue and 58,000 jobs directly dependent on airport activity.
He added that the airport is focused on developing its air cargo sector. “Right now Hartsfield-Jackson has ramp, landing and warehouse capacity to handle more cargo flights, and we are working to make increased use of that untapped potential.”
With nine of the top 10 cargo carriers already flying into Hartsfield, $4 billion of the $32.6 billon in revenue is directly attributable to air cargo related facilities, he said, adding that Singapore Airlines Cargo, Shanghai-based Great Walls Cargo, Asiana Airlines, Cargo Italia, Qatar Airways, Commercial British Airways and Iberia Cargo North America all have Atlanta connections.
With an eye to having Hartsfield-Jackson serve as a “catalyst” for creating jobs and stimulating economic growth, he cited the Gateway Center Development that is to bring together hotel, retail and office space near to the airport.
He also cited the development of regional “innovation clusters” in the fields of advanced manufacturing, bio and medical technology, the film and entertainment, logistics, information technology and green tech.
For GlobalAtlanta’s coverage of the new international terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson, go here.