The Herman Trend Alert|
July 11, 2007
Developed by Professor John D. Kasarda, Kenan Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the concept “aerotropolis” defines the roles of airports and aviation-driven economic development in shaping 21st century urban growth and form. Recently Kasarda addressed the annual meeting of the Piedmont Triad Partnership, an economic development entity located in the Greensboro, High Point, and Winston Salem region of the State of North Carolina.
Federal Express, the overnight and ground delivery service, is building a hub distribution center next to the Piedmont Triad Airport and Kasarda has worked as a consultant on the project for years. The city of Greensboro, where this development is taking place, is located in a prime area for logistics and intermodal transportation. (Intermodal transportation involves the use of containers that may be carried by rail, truck, or airplane and easily moved from one type of transport to another.) Kasarda said, “Fast cycle logistics should become the Region’s new competitive advantage”, rather than tax-breaks and more traditional incentives. This development should prompt “the Region” (and he urged a regional focus, as opposed to local) to concentrate on improving its infrastructure.
The aerotropolis logistics hub will “attract investment, generate tens of thousands of new jobs, and raise the image and awareness of the Piedmont Triad. Build and brand around these assets,” he continued. He also strongly suggested prioritizing “aesthetics and environmental sustainability”. Kasarda was clear that incorporating these two elements is no longer optional. It is expected.
The most important aspect of the aerotropolis concept was his recommendation that the Region develop a state-of-the-art education and training center at or near the airport. Local community colleges and universities need to expand and improve their logistics curricula concentrations so that their graduates will be qualified to take the numerous positions created when a myriad of new businesses locate distribution facilities in the area.
Now and in the future workforce development will be the most important investment that a community can make in its economic future. Without qualified people to take the jobs, companies will not choose to locate in an area.
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