Schematic from John D. Kasarda, who originated the Aerotropolis concept. Kasarda is director of the Center for Air Commerce at the University of North Carolina.
Schematic from John D. Kasarda, who developed the Aerotropolis concept. Kasarda is director of the Center for Air Commerce at the University of North Carolina.

Could Brown Field in South County and Gillespie Field in East County each become the center of a growing “aerotropolis,” or new city centered around an airport?

A study released Monday finds that the two airports are suitable as centers for this new urban form that connects workers, suppliers, executives, and goods to the global marketplace. The concept, developed and popularized by John D. Kasarda at the University of North Carolina, was cited by Time Magazine as a idea that could change the world.

“An aerotropolis will develop businesses outside the airport gates,” said Joe Craver, former chairman of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority. “A successful aerotropolis  will be a catalyst for economic growth that benefits the entire community by bringing investment and jobs to East County.”

Craver represents the East County Economic Development Council, which joined forces with the South County Economic Development Council to secure a $40,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to develop aerotropolis plans for the the two airports.

“Brown Field Airport already is an economic driver in the South County and San Diego region, and has the potential to act as a catalyst for future economic development,” noted Xema Jacobson, chair of the South County group.

The 757-acre Gillespie Field already has two flourishing business parks and the multiple industry clusters that surround the field and branch outward. There are more than 4,000 acres of vacant land suitable for development surrounding Brown Field Airport.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.