The East County and South County Economic Development Councils have received a $40,000 federal grant to research ways to create economic growth through a regional airport-focused “aerotropolis” concept.
The two regions have recently been exploring ways to develop new commercial amenities surrounding the county-run Gillespie Field Airport and Brown Field Municipal Airport, owned by the city of San Diego.
The U.S. Economic Development Administration awarded the grant, which the local agencies will use to identify industry clusters and types of development that will spur public and private investment in the region, representatives of the South County Economic Development Council said.
Planning is expected to begin in January, with the two local agencies forming a joint steering committee.
Gillespie Field contributes more than $400 million and nearly 3,200 jobs to the local economy, according to the East County Economic Development Council. Recently approved plans for phased construction at Brown Field are projected to create 4,000 jobs and contribute more than $500 million annually to the local economy.
East and South County officials are examining ways to add complementary businesses that would capitalize on the regional airports, including office, industrial, retail and hotel elements.