Business leaders want to create aerotropolis in Memphis - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Business leaders want to create aerotropolis in Memphis

Two dozen innovators from Memphis to Washington, D.C., converged upon the University of Memphis for a one-day aerotropolis conference. Two dozen innovators from Memphis to Washington, D.C., converged upon the University of Memphis for a one-day aerotropolis conference.

(WMC-TV) - Two dozen innovators from Memphis to Washington, D.C., converged upon the University of Memphis for a one-day aerotropolis conference.

They brainstormed about what it will take to develop a master plan for the land around Memphis International Airport.

The 50 miles around Memphis International Airport has caught the attention of America's top transportation planners.

Tuesday, industry leaders heard critical information about what's happening on the ground floor as America's aerotropolis begins to take flight.

"About one in three jobs in our community are related to this airport," said Fred Smith, founder of FedEx.

Smith took time out of his busy day Tuesday to emphasize the significance of America's aerotropolis.

"People should care about it…. because it produces jobs," said Arnold Perl, chairman of the Memphis and Shelby County Airport Authority.

Memphis is the most full-fledged aerotropolis in America with its airport, roadways, railroad and river, coupled with two major drivers.

"With the FedEx regional hub and Delta passenger hub, we have an annual economic impact of $28.6 billion a year," said Perl. "About half the jobs in this community can be attributed to transportation, direct or indirect."

Up until now, the Memphis aerotropolis has been successfully running on auto pilot without a flight plan. But the Bluff City is one of just six cities in America to receive a $7 million grant to design the master plan for the 50 miles surrounding Memphis International Airport.

"Seventy percent of our gross metropolitan product is driven by what happens inside that 50 square miles," said John Moore, president of the Memphis Chamber of Commerce.

Airport Authority Chairman Arnold Perl and Chamber President John Moore are joining forces with Memphis and America's most innovative transportation thinkers to figure out how to best maximize the land around the airport.

And they're using supply and demand to plot the course.

"Any time you have to make, pack and ship anything on a time-sensitive basis, they come to Memphis," said Perl.

"What the consumer wants is faster, better, cheaper and greener," said Moore. "That is what companies are building their business model around."

Perl pointed out how downtown Memphis revitalization took 30 years.

He said with the speed of the global economy, Memphis and America don't have that much time to bring aerotropolis to full speed.

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