Aerotropolis Detroit II

by MaryH 1. June 2009 01:53

While the concept of an airport city or aerotropolis has attracted a lot of attention, what does the Detroit Aerotropolis mean for Southeast Michigan?  Backers of the plan claim significant job creation and other economic impacts while detractors state that the aerotropolis will merely redirect development from other parts of the region.  

Detroit’s Aerotropolis is composed of the area between Detroit Metropolitan Airport and Willow Run Airport, nearly 60,000 acres.   Regional partners of the aerotropolis include Belleville, Huron Charter Township, Romulus, Taylor, Van Buren Charter Township, Washtenaw County, Wayne County, Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti Charter Township, Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Willow Run Airport, Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG), Detroit Regional Chamber, Detroit Renaissance, UPS, Yankee Air Museum, DTE Energy, Next Energy, and Walbridge.

An important component of the aerotropolis is the proposed and existing incentives to promote development in the aerotropolis.  The Detroit Regional Aerotropolis highlights many existing tax incentives and loans available to prospective businesses including tax credits and abatements job training programs, and regulatory assistance. 

Proponents are also pushing the creation of additional aerotropolis incentives.  In September, 2008 Representative Ed Clemente introduced House Bills 6502-6511 which would have created tax-free renaissance zones, tax credits through the Michigan Economic Growth Authority (MEGA), personal property tax exemptions, real property tax abatements, and the creation of “Smart Zone” like districts where tax revenue can be used for economic development.   The bills would also create aerotropolis development zones, a new type of tax-free renaissance zones.  Critics of the proposed legislation include Oakland and Macomb County officials who state that the aerotropolis incentives will make it impossible for those counties to compete for businesses.  As reported by Crain’s Detroit Business, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC) is also against the proposed renaissance zones because they would similarly harm urban municipalities’ ability to attract or retain businesses.

Due to pressure from lawmakers and communities, these bills were withdrawn from consideration and are expected to be reintroduced in another form sometime this year.  In the meantime, several aviation-related businesses have announced they are locating in the proposed aerotropolis corridor. 

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About the Authors

We are the Center for Urban Studies Economic Development Unit.  We have several authors who contribute directly and indirectly to this blog.

Lyke Thompson, Ph.D.

Director of the Center for Urban Studies and Professor in Wayne State University's Political Science Department, has specialized his research on the urban political and economic environment.  A primary focus has been centered on municipal economic development, urban policy, and the determinants of economic growth.

Eric Stokan, MA.

Research assistant at the Center for Urban Studies Economic Development Unit.  Mr. Stokan serves as the lead researcher of the Unit, analyzing economic data using various statistical techniques.  Mr. Stokan is interested in questions concerning municipal economic growth and industry mix as well as determinants of local economic incentive adoption.

Mary Hennessey

Research technician at the Center for Urban Studies Economic Development Unit.  Ms. Hennessey researches the effectiveness of local economic development incentives.  Specifically, she has conducted a thorough investigation of brownfields and is currently working on public transit.