Monday, June 13, 2011

Airport Development as Regional Economic Engine

Planning experts are meeting today and tomorrow with developers and municipalities to identify continued economic development opportunities around Pittsburgh International Airport, which Allegheny County, the Airport Authority and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development hope will result in a master plan for the area, which includes parts of Allegheny, Beaver and Washington Counties.

The catchword in national and international airport development these days is “aerotropolis”—a city built around an airport, according to University of North Carolina Professor John Kasarda. He says Pittsburgh is in the early stages of a decades-long effort to achieve a full-fledged aerotropolis. One challenge is trying to recover the passenger and cargo volume lost when US Airways stopped using Pittsburgh as a hub. Another is getting all the public and private entities to cooperate in a regional effort.

Kasarda says Pittsburgh’s competitive edge lies in low housing costs, the availability of all modes of transportation, and an aviation-oriented labor force and economy.