Sep 12, 2008
Detroit Region Aerotroplis set to take off to economic prosperity
LANSING – Most of America's great cities came about and grew up because of their proximity to transportation hubs. In the early days of the country it was seaports and rivers, later it was railroads and even later it was interstate highways.
The members of the Aerotroplis Task Force hope Detroit Metro Airport in Romulus will be a new transportation hub that will spur economic growth in Southeast Michigan. The term of Aerotroplis is a new type of urban economic development concept used to classify the economic development role of airports and aviation-driven enterprises.
"We think this is going to be one of the future economic engines," said Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, a member of the task force.
The members of the task force hope the newly dubbed Detroit Region Aerotroplis that encompasses the 60,000 acres of Metro Airport and Willow Run Airport will be the hub of aviation businesses, a transportation hub, research facilities and other business that require on time deliveries to be located 15-20 miles from the airport center. It would be built along the lines of Research Triangle Park in the Chapel Hill, NC area. More than 40 percent of the total economic value of all world goods produced are shipped by air.
The task force consists of Wayne County, Washtenaw County, Wayne County Airport Authority, the City of Belleville, Huron Charter Township, the City of Romulus, the City of Taylor, Van Buren Township, Charter Township of Ypsilanti and the City of Ypsilanti.
Representatives of the task force have testified before both the House Commerce Committee and the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee.
"We are not just competing against urban areas like Chicago, New York or Los Angles, but we are competing against the Dubai's, India and China," Ficano said. "We have the chance to create a world class facility."
Other examples the task force is looking at is the UPS facility in Louisville, and the most advanced model is Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. The Aerotroplis in Amsterdam has shopping centers, hotels, museums, entertainment, training centers and it is the hub for railway service throughout Europe.
"Michigan really needs to reinvent itself," said Robert Guenzel, Washntenaw County Administrator. "It could not come at a better time.
"I'm here to tell you the business community is strongly behind this," he said. "They have kicked the tires and taken a good look at this."
Not only will it create thousands of new jobs, it will also help spur the various rail and mass transit projects being talked about in Southeast Michigan. The sustainable development will spur new business, not just move businesses and jobs around.
"Detroit Metro is one of the only assets Michigan has not leveraged to our advantage," said Doug Rothwel, President of Detroit Renaissance. "We want to be a Midwest hub."
The task force has a four point plan it wants to follow that includes forming a development authority, drafting a business incentive plan, a business attraction plan and a marketing plan. The task force wants to move fast and start putting plans in place by next year. Because it's competing against projects like the $33 billion Dubai World Central project scheduled for opening later this year that will be the size of O'Hare and Heathrow airports, they want to start making the permit process for new tenant businesses.
The task force is also looking to Lansing for incentives like tax deductions, tax incentives, tax abetments, TIFAs and LDFAs. Draft legislation is already being kicked around.