Home > Uncategorized > Local leaders in on aerotropolis

Local leaders in on aerotropolis

Reporter-Times

Brian Culp
bculp@reporter-times.com
September 3, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS

When Dan Moore came to Morgan County 35 years ago, he was impressed with the potential of the area.

Moore, who is president and CEO of Home Bank as well as the president of the Morgan County Economic Development Corporation Board, said the great competitive advantage includes two four-lane highways on either side of the county as well as Indiana University to the south and Indianapolis to the north.

“And frankly we haven’t done a thing about it,” Moore said Friday during a gathering at the Indianapolis International Airport of Morgan County leaders for a presentation on the aerotropolis concept. “This is a second chance.”

An aerotropolis is a network of economic development and transportation logistics centered around the airport and nearby highway and rail systems. Morgan County, as well as Mooresville, has signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding to take part in developing strategies for the aerotropolis.

Friday, John Kasarda, who pioneered the concept, expanded on the needs of creating such an economic entity as well as the participation that is needed by surrounding governments.

“In Asia, the Middle East and Europe, they are looking at airports as being the main asset to compete,” Kasarda said. “We have been looking at them as being a nuisance.

“This is not about convenience, not even safety. It’s about regional and international advantage. Airports have become the 21st century business magnets and regional economic accelerators.”

The change in our global economy makes airports the center of development, Kasarda said.

“The Indianapolis aerotropolis will connect its region’s businesses to markets near and far,” he said. “The entire area becomes better connected and therefore more competitive.”

Moore and others at the presentation said they are excited about the concept. The real question comes down to how Morgan County can prevent the opportunity from slipping by, Moore said, during a question-and-answer session at the end.

Kasarda said it will be an ongoing process that involves a lot of communication.

When airport officials go out to promote the aerotropolis idea, “you should go with them,” Kasarda said. “Cities don’t compete. Regions compete.

“To help people understand what we are talking about, you all have to be a part of it and you need to communicate and cooperate and understand that when a business comes in next door it is just as important to you. We are all in this together.”

Corey Wilson, project manager for the IND Aerotropolis, said Friday’s meeting is a great first step in making it happen.

“We believe here at the airport that the first step is getting all the right people to the table,” Wilson said. “It can’t be done in a vacuum; it has to be done collaboratively.”

With five organizations signing on to the memorandum of understanding and three entertaining it, the collaboration is close to coming about, Wilson said. Morgan County, Mooresville, Plainfield and Decatur and Wayne townships in Indianapolis all have signed on. Hendricks County, Avon and Indianapolis have not yet signed the memorandum. Once all are on board, the next step will be creating an inter-local cooperation agreement.

Such an agreement will allow the IND Aerotropolis to begin marketing to potential developers and businesses.

Wilson said they hope to have a draft for the interlocal agreement by the end of the year. This will allow them to begin looking out 5, 10 and 20 years into the future to set up benchmarks, said John Clark, executive director of Indianapolis International Airport.

“We’ve got to be working together so that infrastructure to and from the airport work together so it becomes seamless,” Clark said. “If we are aware of the interests you are pursuing, we can help in that process.”

He thinks Morgan County is headed in the right direction.

“We can’t do it from the airport’s perspective without Morgan County, Hendricks County and Marion County,” Clark said. “The reception we’ve gotten from Morgan County in being a part of this has been extremely beneficial. In many ways you guys are leading this effort by being here today.”

Clark said those groups in an interlocal agreement will be the ones that really set the agenda for the areas that are five and 20 miles out from the airport, forming the aerotropolis.

“We don’t have the answers,” Clark said. “We just recognize what the airport means to this region. Looking at logistics, I think we have every opportunity to be the next logistic and transportation center of North America.

“We are unencumbered. We can take our development and not just let it happen haphazardly. We are saying the airport is here and asking, ‘How do we best leverage that for the region?’

“At the end of the day, the success is that we have a truly integrated effort so that one area isn’t growing and retarding the growth of another.”

Moore said he was excited after Friday’s meeting because he heard the airport officials committing to keeping Morgan County in the loop.

“I think what we heard from John (Clark) is that this is very early in the process,” Moore said. “We are in the first inning of a nine-inning game. But what we walked away with was a commitment that we will be included in this process.

“I think what we have is a seat at the table over how this evolves.”

In addition, it will bring the county together in a vision, Moore said.

“It gives us a theme countywide on how we can look at economic development – logistics and leveraging the airport.

“I think we are finally defining who we are. We have never understood who we are and what our position is. Where that will lead us is to begin building a consensus in the county as to how we will brand ourselves.”

Copyright: Reporter-Times.com/MD-Times.com 2011

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. September 7, 2011 at 4:10 am

    This is a great move. Great job, Morgan Co. Economic Development!

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