By Ryan McGreal
Published April 26, 2006
John Dolbec, the CEO of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, asserted in an email to me that Hamilton is not "putting all of its eggs" in the aerotropolis basket.
I beg to disagree. According to the city staff report (PDF download) that recommended the aerotropolis expansion, it is supposed to generate 52,000 jobs between now and 2031. That's essentially all the new jobs expected over the next 25 years. The report recommending the aerotropolis expansion does so explicitly to provide square footage to accommodate that job growth.
Dolbec explained that the city's strategy spreads the risk by incubating a half-dozen "clusters" for economic growth. However, as Anthony DeSantis, President of the Hamilton–Halton Home-builders Association, pointed out last summer, aerotropolis is "the most important" cluster.
They can't have it both ways: either aerotropolis will be responsible for most job gains, in which case the city's growth plan is unbalanced, or else it will not be responsible for most job gains, in which case diverting aerotropolis investments elsewhere will not devastate the city's growth strategy.
The city can have as many "clusters" as it wants, but if most of the actual jobs are going into the one cluster that depends on the airline industry not contracting significantly over the next two decades, then we're in deep trouble.