Kevin Johnson Touts Airport’s ‘Booming Submarket’

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Kevin Johnson, Invest Atlanta’s senior vice president of economic development and vice-chair of the Aerotropolis Alliance, spoke at the South Metro Development Outlook conference on February 23. He took part in a panel discussion about the positive changes coming to the area surrounding Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world’s busiest passenger airport.

Joining Johnson on the panel were Michael Paris, president and CEO of the Council for Quality Growth, and Roosevelt Council, the airport’s general manager.

“Many companies are located in Atlanta because of our airport,” Johnson said. “The Aerotropolis is a booming submarket with many wonderful assets and many more to come.”

“The opportunities around the airport are immense,” added Paris.

Before the panel, Mayor Kasim Reed received the South Metro Development Outlook Award in recognition of his success in making the airport more successful than ever.

“We’re doing absolutely amazing things here,” he said. “This is south metro’s moment.”

For 15 years, Michael Hightower, managing partner at The Collaborative Firm, has convened elected officials and industry professionals interested in the counties of metro Atlanta’s southern counties: Clayton, Coweta, Douglas, Fayette, Henry, Spalding, and South Fulton. This year’s conference covered many topics, including the area’s thriving logistics industry, transportation, the region’s Community Improvement Districts (CIDs), and the airport.

Hartsfield-Jackson is not only the world’s busiest and most efficient passenger airport, it’s also the economic engine and job creator for a significant chunk of metro Atlanta. The airport employs 63,000 people onsite, making it the state’s largest employer, and enables a total of 400,000 jobs and $35 billion in economic impact.

Johnson sees plenty of opportunity for new companies to relocate or expand on the hundreds of undeveloped land within the “corporate crescent” along the airport’s north side. Delta Air Lines and Porsche North American already call the area home.

“I like to say that Atlanta has three central business districts: Downtown, Midtown, and Buckhead,” said Johnson. “But the region has one central business district, the airport, and we need to start treating it that way.”

Johnson says the Aerotropolis Alliance is working to attract $1 billion in new private investment to the area within the next five to 10 years, not including the improvements already underway at the airport.

“We’re making a statement, putting a stake in the ground, that this place will lead the region in the future,” he said.

Roosevelt Council spoke about the $6 billion ATL Next capital improvement project he’s overseeing. Once work is complete, the airport will have a 4-start InterContinental Hotel, a sixth runway, the new Concourse G, an expanded Concourse T, and enough cargo capacity to make it a top 5 cargo airport. Council pointed out that 27,000 jobs are tied to air cargo in the state of Georgia.

Council emphasized that even with the continued growth of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, his focus would remain on ensuring the people of the south metro region benefit from the influx of new investment and jobs

“Despite our size, we see ourselves as a community airport,” Council said.