DIA Technology & Commerce City
Over time, shifting forces in the economy change the ways businesses compete, as well as where they choose to locate. Globalization, speed, agility and connectivity are the factors that drive competition today. These factors combined with improvements in air transportation mean that in the 21st century, airports have become major drivers of economic development and business location in the way that highways drove growth in the 20th century, railroads in the 19th century and seaports in the 18th. Airports themselves are huge employers, sometimes the largest in a given region, but the economic impact is much greater than the immediate facility and can be felt for miles in all directions.
Commerce City is fortunate to be located in immediate proximity to the nation’s 5th busiest airport with approximately 12 square miles of large parcels of land suited for corporate campuses. Businesses in an array of industries view proximity to a major airport to be a requirement for site selection, either because their business is airport-related or because they need to deploy employees frequently and often on short notice.
Because of this, DIA Technology is one of the city’s five target industries – representing enterprises that either require airport proximity or are greatly benefited by it. This month’s newsletter will focus on this important topic for Commerce City’s future... The DIA Aerotropolis!
Aerotropolis comes to Denver!
Denver became the focus of the aviation world when the city hosted the Airport Cities World Conference and Exhibition at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel on April 25-27, 2012.
Commerce City’s Acting Deputy City Manager, Jim Hayes attended the conference which brought together experienced airport professionals, aviation industry experts, and community and business leaders from around the world to share ideas, experiences and opportunities. Denver hosted more than 800 delegates, 50 mainline sponsors, and 60 exhibitors from all over the world making it the biggest show in Airport Cities 10-year history, a 30% increase over last year’s event.
The reason for the boost is likely due to the very current and hot topic in the Denver Metropolitan Region known as Aerotropolis.
The Aerotropolis concept was defined in 2000 by Dr. John D Kasarda, a professor from the University of North Carolina. Aerotropolis is a new urban development concept comprising aviation-intensive businesses and related enterprises extending up to 25 kilometers outward from major airports. It is similar to a traditional metropolis with a city and its suburbs, but instead has an airport city at its core and is surrounded by clusters of aviation-related enterprises that gain a competitive advantage by locating near an airport.
While an Airport City focuses on the property located within the airport boundaries, an Aerotropolis comprises the land outside the airport boundaries. Commerce City makes up two of DIA’s four boundaries – adjacent to the airport on the both the North and West sides of the airport.
Aerotropolises have the potential to attract numerous industries that rely upon and utilize time-sensitive manufacturing, e-commerce fulfillment, telecommunications and logistics as well as offices for business people who travel frequently by air. Clusters of business parks, logistics parks, industrial parks, distribution centers, information technology complexes and wholesale merchandise marts can benefit by locating themselves around an airport and along the transportation corridors surrounding them.
During the Conference, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock unveiled Denver’s new ‘Airport City Concept’ which includes a masterplan for developing land within the airport’s property boundaries.
“Because of the gift we have been given by the leaders who came before us, we have a unique opportunity to take our region’s biggest economic engine and spark a new era of growth that will transform Metro Denver and revitalise the regional economy,” said Mayor Hancock.
The Airport City masterplan is designed to be a long-term growth and development plan for the next 50 years.
There are six economic districts detailed in the plan:
City Center imagined as "the convergence point between the vibrant business community and the Airport's ongoing development initiatives."
City Gateway with mixed-use commercial and "transit-oriented development."
Logistics center oriented to rapid shipping facilities with international reach.
Aero District offering secure access to "cargo, aerospace, aviation and military operations."
Tech District emphasizing global collaboration between aerospace manufacturing, aviation, renewable energy, biosciences, and other tech industries.
Agro District for food processing/distribution, cold storage, greenhouse agriculture, bio-fuel industry, and warehouse space.
At build-out it is estimated to generate more than 25,000 construction jobs, 30,000 jobs within the Airport City development areas and more than 40,000 new jobs throughout the Denver Metro region as a result of indirect and induced new growth and development outside the airport’s borders. It is also estimated that the Airport City will generate more than $300 million in tax revenues for the region and the state.
Kim Day, manager of aviation at DIA, said: “Denver has a rare opportunity to develop the most efficient and carefully planned Airport City in the United States, and quite possibly the world. Airports are a magnet for growth and we must ensure we move forward in a way that maximises the benefits for our city, region and state. We will work in close collaboration with our regional neighbors and partners to seize the opportunity before us.”
Denver International Airport is currently the 11th-busiest airport in the world and the fifth-busiest airport in the United States, with more than 52 million passengers travelling through the gateway in 2011.
DIA is also the primary economic engine of the state of Colorado, generating more than $22 billion for the region annually.
Although Denver is leading the effort, the vision will not become reality without regional cooperation and collaboration from Adams County, Aurora and Commerce City, as well as the Colorado Department of Transportation, Regional Transportation District and Denver Regional Council of Governments.