by Rick Griffin
The East County Economic Development Council and the South County Economic Development Council have received a $40,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to develop an “Aerotropolis” plan for the areas surrounding Gillespie Field airport in El Cajon and Brown Field Municipal Airport. The Aerotropolis concept means a region’s layout, infrastructure and economy is centered around and leverages an airport as an economic engine to stimulate economic growth. The grant will assist in research that identifies and defines industry clusters and types of development that will spur public and private investment in the region. The two agencies will begin forming a joint steering committee with the planning expected to begin in January.
“Gillespie and Brown fields are already economic catalysts in their respective regions,” said Jo Marie Diamond, East County EDC president. “The funding from the EDA will help us map out how to best maximize these economic drivers as we move forward with Aerotropolis development.”
Currently, Gillespie Field contributes more than $400 million and nearly 3,200 jobs locally, according to Diamond. Plans for phased construction at Brown Field are projected to create 4,000 permanent jobs and contribute more than $500 million annually to local economy, she said.