Perkins talks aerotropolis at GRRA-RCA lunch

“Job growth is the key. It’s got to be the number one focus for every politician in this country.”

That was part of a message Greensboro City Councilman Robbie Perkins delivered at the monthly luncheon of the GRRA-REALTORS® Commercial Alliance on Tuesday.

He spoke in support of an aerotropolis for the Piedmont Triad (“aerotropolis,” if you’re not familiar with the term, refers to a business structure designed to attract and support airline-dependent businesses and industries).

Creating more jobs, he said, started with identifying our assets, such as our mid-Atlantic location, our highway infrastructure, our health systems, colleges and universities. An aerotropolis could harness the power of an “underutilized” PTI.

“We need to take advantage of that asset and build up a new economy around the airport,” Perkins said, noting that the chances to do so are coming soon, as FedEx and HondaJet ramp up their presence (the talk came just one day before the new runway at PTI was officially opened).

Here are a few quick points from Perkins’ talk:

  • He expects the aerotropolis to have a 60-mile draw, from Southern Virginia to southern Randolph county.
  • He believes a lower corporate tax rate at the state level would help attract more businesses to the area
  • Because of the massive scale of such a project, cooperation between all the affected cities and counties is a prerequisite. That means collaborating on land use planning and steering the land toward development that is friendly to businesses who might one day want to locate in the airport area.
  • Greensboro should consider hiring a lobbyist to campaign for federal dollars
  • Having “shovel-ready” highway projects would greatly help in securing those dollars.
  • The current state of broadband in the area will likely not support the scale of this project. The airport area needs a fiber optic network that would allow companies to conduct their business globally and instantaneously. This will require significant communications infrastructure upgrades (an estimated investment of between $20 and $25 million).
  • The success of the aerotropolis depends on “a positive attitude toward our friends in other areas,” Perkins said.

GRRA members haven’t heard the last of the aerotropolis – representatives from the Piedmont Triad Partnership will be on-hand at the March 2 luncheon to talk about its benefits.

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