The speakers included Miguel Southwell, general manager of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Darlene Hawksley, real estate and business engagement director of the Fort McPherson development authority, and Joseph Folz, Porsche Cars North America attorney.
Before an audience of more than 200 attendees in Sandy Springs, they discussed recent investments and developments on the south side and how these projects will impact each other.
Henry Council for Quality Growth Executive Director Steve Cash was one of about a dozen Henry County residents, business owners and council members in attendance.
He said the county can and will be an essential part of development on the south side of Atlanta.
“The Atlanta Aerotropolis Alliance and the redevelopments planned could be the biggest economic boost to Henry County since the installation of I-75,” Cash said.
He said he believes that as development migrates, the county will be able to meet growing needs.
“Development will move further south and Henry County has the infrastructure, roads, affordable land and space to meet that head on,” he said. “The Henry Council for Quality Growth is excited and ready to be involved.”
Much of the development and future projects discussed will occur around the airport, which has upgrades in progress in and around it.
“We will release a new master plan sometime in this month, but we are looking to build new parking facilities and gates, plus spend about $500 million to modernize our existing terminal, which is about 34 years old,” Southwell said.
Southwell said airport officials are excited that Porsche decided to open its North American headquarters, slated for a December debut, on the southside.
Folz said, “It occurred to us that this location would benefit plenty of companies, but the Atlanta airport area has been an area that people seem to have shied away from.”
He said it is “complex” to develop because of its multiple jurisdictions but the Atlanta Aerotropolis Alliance, established in April, is tackling the issue.
“[Porsche’s] site alone involves Fulton and Clayton counties, Atlanta, Hapeville and the Department of Aviation,” Folz said, “but a group of business owners, property owners and officials decided to come around the same table and are trying to make building around the Atlanta airport area an easier choice.”