While the Atlanta and Paris airports have made strides toward their vision of creating an international network of airport professionals, linking their nearby companies through trade and investment has been more elusive.
That could change this month as Hubstart Paris Region, a marketing agency for the area around Charles de Gaulle Airport, assists a delegation of two French companies and an engineering school in Atlanta.
In 2011, Hubstart and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport launched a memorandum of understanding that focused heavily on mutual business promotion to companies on both sides of the Atlantic. They also agreed to jointly sell both destinations to companies in third countries: highlighting Paris as an ideal European base and Atlanta as a gateway to the U.S. market.
Those efforts might be finally coming to fruition.
In July, Hubstart welcomed municipalities from around Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport into the club, holding the fourth edition of the Sustainable Airport Area seminar in the Chinese metropolis.
That was the first time it had gone outside Atlanta or Paris, honing in on the theme of developing a “connectivity economy” around major airports. A tour included visits to DHL’s northern Asia hub and a design and assembly plant of Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China. Claire Angelle, the city of Atlanta’s international affairs director, attended, along with Atlanta Regional Commission and Atlanta airport officials.
This month, the latest edition of the seminar will return to Atlanta, where the second edition was held in 2012. The full-day event will come after the Airports Council International North America annual conference, a huge industry event Sept. 7-10.
Two French firms including Hub Performance, which sells technologies to manage crowd flow in airports are to take part in a buyers’ mission organized by UBIFRANCE, the French trade promotion agency. Hubstart will also introduce them to influencers in the Atlanta airport community.
That’s not the full-scale business delegation Hubstart board member Elizabeth Le Masson told Airport City in Paris last year that she hoped to bring the next time she returned to Atlanta.
But it comes at an opportune time, as the Atlanta Aerotropolis Alliance – an Hubstart-like effort to foster collaborative development around the airport in Atlanta – is getting its own legs.
Doug Hooker, executive director of the Atlanta Regional Commission, which spearheaded the alliance, will keynote the seminar. The alliance will arrange a business tour that will include stops at Porsche’s new North American headquarters, the Gateway Center, a mixed-use development with an international convention center along with offices and hotels; Club-E, a College Park incubator and co-working space and the former Ft. McPherson military base.
One session will focus on how to grow and fund sustainable businesses in the airport area, while another will focus on leveraging public-private partnerships.
Hubstrat will introduce a workforce initiative designed to equip airport-area residents with the skills they need to obtain employment in the area.
Read our coverage of last year’s event: Grand Bargain: In Paris, Local Governments Slowly Embrace Airport As Catalyst for Growth