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Airport guides Atlanta's push for innovation and logistics
By DeAllous Smith

Hartsfield-Jackson was the center for innovation and logistics during the Metro Atlanta Chamber quarterly meeting in May. Airport officials hosted the program and site tour, which drew more than 50 members of the chamber's Supply Chain Leadership Council.

Mario Diaz, deputy general manager, Jim Drinkard, assistant general manager of Planning and Development, and Jeff Pearse, director of Marketing and Business Development, each spoke about the Airport's success as a driver of economic activity in the region. They pointed out that Hartsfield-Jackson generates a direct economic impact of $23.5 billion on the metro Atlanta region and $15 billion in personal income.

"People often ask us which business we're in," Diaz said. "We're in the transportation business, of course, but to a great extent the Airport is also in the economic development business. We work with the surrounding jurisdictions to create destination centers that will attract businesses, tourists and residents."

The Airport's success stems from three strategies: reinvesting in facilities; supporting compatible land-use projects; and establishing business practices that are ethical and transparent and that allow all stakeholders to participate, Pearse said.

"With these three areas on our radar, the Airport has produced a total of 393,000 jobs for the regional economy," he added. "Hartsfield-Jackson is truly the state's economic crown jewel. Our infrastructure, geographical advantage and low landing fees provide air carriers with the ability to expand service from Atlanta to other countries."

Serving more than 90 million passengers annually, the Airport is undergoing $6 billion-plus in capital improvements, which will include a new, energy-efficient rental car center; a new, 12-gate international terminal; and aesthetic and functional upgrades to its concourses, people movers and parking services.

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