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"Michigan airports to tout development"
Wednesday, June 9, 2004
Wayne airports to tout development
Metro, Willow Run fall conference will target developers
By R.J. King
The Detroit (MI) News
ROMULUS - To help stem a slowdown in commercial development, Wayne
County will host an international conference in the fall promoting new
business opportunities around Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus
and Willow Run Airport in Van Buren Township.
The annual Airport Cities Conference, scheduled Oct. 5-6 at the Westin
Hotel at Metro Airport, is expected to draw more than 175 airline
executives, logistics firms, real estate developers and airport
"So many companies now count delivery schedules in seconds instead of
minutes," Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano said. "We need to tout
our (11) runways, available land for development and build a plan that
The conference will attract airport-related organizations from numerous
U.S. cities as well as international communities like Amsterdam, Athens,
Brazil, Dubai, Hong Kong, London, Shanghai and South Africa.
Since the 2001 U.S. economic recession, numerous businesses have put off
expansion plans or delayed moving to larger quarters. The slowdown has
contributed to a 20 percent vacancy rate in Metro Detroit's office
Ficano pointed to Visteon Corp.'s emerging $300 million headquarters in
Van Buren Township as an example of an automotive supplier locating its
offices near a major airport. The 4,000-employee complex, to be called
Visteon Village, is scheduled to open this summer.
"A main reason Visteon chose Van Buren for its headquarters was that it
saw the benefits of having its employees near the airport," Ficano said.
"It also means its customers can get to them that much quicker."
John Kasarda, an aviation expert and director of the Kenan Institute of
Private Enterprise at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,
said the Airport Cities Conference has grown in stature in recent years.
"Companies are finding they can cut costs and boost profits by locating
near major airports," Kasarda said. "It's the next wave of development."
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