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Clock Ticking Down on Aerotropolis

John Butler
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St. LOUIS (KMOX) – Dick Flemming, who heads up of the RCGA tells KMOX another group of Chinese planners and business people are due back in St. Louis next week for another round of talks on turning St. Louis into an international cargo distribution center. 

So what’s the status of  Lambert International Airport  as a  “China Hub” or as its now being called an “Aerotropolis,” a 20-year-old international globalization shipping concept of cities and new development surrounding an airport?

The head of the Regional Chamber and Growth Association says right now it all depends on getting state lawmakers back to Jefferson City for a special session to talk tax incentives that will entice shippers and warehousers and ancillary companies to bring their businesses to St. Louis. 

The price tag being quoted  to make “Aerotropolis” happen is in the neighborhood of $400-million in public subsidies.  

Flemming says if we have to wait until fall or later there could be problems. Cities like Cincinnati and others are just waiting for a problem to develop before they put their own plan on the table. Flemming says thousands of jobs are hanging in the balance.

Greg Lindsay and development consultant John D. Kasarda from the University of North Carolina have written the definitive new book on the hub concept called “Aerotropolis.” 

In a published report this morning in “The Midwest Democracy Project,” Lindsay accused “everyone in Missouri” of “abusing” the word “aerotropolis” and said flat-out he didn’t believe the aerotropolis concept would work in St. Louis.  Lindsay who has addressed developers all over the country says nobody asked him if the aerotrpolis concept will work in St. Louis.  

Lindsay is joined by the libertarian  “Show-Me-Institute” group which has been highly critical of the plan, sighting massive tax incentives and subsidies as an inducement.

“Aerotropolis” co-author, John Kasarda, in researching the book,  found that the word Aerotropolis original appearance in print was actually in Rem Koolhaas’s Great Leap Forward, quoting a local Chinese official. Kasarda first heard it in China, as well.

The state legislature could have acted before the session ended in May but they just couldn’t put it together.  That has not stopped lawmakers, talks continue to be held behind the scenes in hopes quick action can be taken if there is a special session in September.    

The question now is will Missouri lawmakers work out a new development plan before time runs out.

Copyright KMOX

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