Issue Year: Issue Month:

CLT Airport: A Burgeoning Aerotropolis – 2019

CLT Airport, our No. 1 economic development asset, is seeing more growth and more changes than ever before—access lanes, gates, tower, electric buses, light rail extensions, bridges, highways, and more retail and hospitality alongside more logistics, intermodal, warehousing and distribution!

CLT Airport is a burgeoning aerotropolis—a metropolitan subregion whose infrastructure, land use and economy are centered on an airport. Airports have evolved as drivers of business location and urban development in the 21st century in the same way as highways did in the 20th century, railroads in the 19th century, and seaports in the 18th century.

As economies become increasingly globalized, time-sensitive and reliant on air commerce for trade in goods and services, the speed and agility aviation provides to long-distance movement of people and goods generate competitive advantages for firms and places.

In the aerotropolis model, time and cost of connectivity replace space and distance as the primary metrics shaping development, with “economies of speed” becoming as salient for the competitiveness of firms and places as economies of scale and economies of scope.

As the center of one of the fastest-growing regions in the United States, CLT Airport is taking a quantum leap forward. Its $2.5B in construction projects include a new lobby and ticketing, new gates, new terminals, new tower, new roadways, and new runways. And that’s on-site at CLT Airport.

Outside and around CLT Airport are new businesses, services, hotels, meeting facilities, logistics centers, warehouses and distribution facilities. CLT Airport’s investment is magnified and multiplied in the development of the surrounding area, which—with widened highways, new and improved bridges, and a light rail option—will seamlessly connect both Gaston and Mecklenburg counties on either side.

This, in turn, will provide easier access to more jobs and more business, expanding accessibility for the labor market and increasing economic opportunities.

There’s no doubt that CLT Airport is setting the stage for the 21st century, establishing Charlotte as a world-class city and hub of international trade.


Our world changes constantly, but this year seems to be launching into a whole new era of change with the advent of our 45th President of the United States. The prospects for change are what the American public supported during last year’s political campaign. As 2017 begins, we know that change is coming. Yet we are still not confident what exactly the new changes will look like. And so, with faith in the American system of democracy, many have no choice but to take on an attitude of ‘wait and see.’

In the meantime, change is also happening around the globe. This issue of Insights provides insight into several aspects of change that bear upon the nature of the changes ahead. As we contemplate our future, we ought to look back with some clarity on what progress we have made and what we have put in place that brings us to this day. Read about the top 10 risks for 2017, the thinking behind the creation of a new world order, the progress on our globe when we look at everyone around the world, and how the European Union is preparing for the exit of Great Britain. These insights should provide a basis for decisions about our future.

Lighting Africa- Delivering Electricity to Transform Lives

Former Duke Energy CEO, Jim Rogers, author of Lighting the World!


Trans Pacific Partnership
Trans Pacific Partnership


Why you need to know about the TPP!

In the midst of our Presidential campaign, I thought it might be helpful to put forward some facts about the TPP. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have expressed their doubts about the TPP. Their comments have certainly created a negative and false impression about the TPP. However, the TPP is a negotiated trade agreement that has been developed under President Obama. He wants this agreement in place as one of his legacy accomplishments. As such, he is doing all he can to pass it before congress before he leaves office. It is expected to be taken up by Congress during the lame duck session before the next President takes office.


Before you jump to your own conclusion about the TPP, it might be valuable to gather the facts about the TPP. Read more…

Global Ramifications of Brexit: 

Implications for the U.S.

Gillian Tett, U.S. Managing Editor of the Financial Times, recently shared her masterful insight into the U.S. and global economy, with a special focus on the global ramifications of Britain’s pending exit from the EU, as part of the World Affairs Council of Charlotte’s speaker series.

What is immediately valuable to glean from her remarks are the implications of Brexit for the upcoming elections and for the future of the United States. Will we choose—as Great Britain has—nationalism, or will we embrace globalism?

Tett shares her political perspective on everything from how the U.K. (including the FT) got Brexit so wrong; to growing economic, social and political polarization, and the “elites” disconnection; to living in a time of anger when voters no longer fear taking big risks; to effective communication and the power of simple, clear, positive messages; to the importance of boring, geeky details of voter registration.

Tett shares her global perspective on the meaning of Brexit for the rest of the European Union from fundamental tension at the heart of the Eurozone project; to the lack of European cohesion and social glue and political unity; to how you create a functioning economic union without a political union; including her keen analysis of the range of trade options and the state of the international finance system.

Perhaps most interesting of all is when she branches out to implications for the U.S. and to the population generally, from income inequality, to technological/digital displacement, to income redistribution, to educational reform, to infrastructure projects.

She provides cautionary messages including one she described in her latest book as “the silo effect,” being essentially fragmented into self-reinforcing silos:

“If you look at who people are getting information from for decisions in their lives, whether it’s where to go out for a meal or where to go to college, or where to vote, it’s increasingly through the social media networks rather than authority figures. That’s fueling this sense of tribalism and of polarization because one of the things about technology is it’s fantastically deductive. It gives us the illusion that we’re all hyper-connected and yet you know that in a world where you can customize, where you can choose where to get your information from, people are increasingly fragmenting into their own classical tribes.”

This is an incredibly important thought-provoking piece. You’ll want to make time to read her remarks in their entirety and appreciate the breadth of her perspective and the genuineness with which she reflects on the world order and human condition.

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Please keep me up-to-date and informed about CLT assets, resources and economic progress.

Thank you, John Paul Galles