Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Miami-Dade wants the mother of all aerospace trade shows (With video)

MIAMI -  In Tuesday's State of the County address, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez indicated he would not take "no" for an answer for plans to bring an international aerospace tradeshow to the Homestead Air Reserve Base.

"We'll continue to work to get the federal support we need to land that show," Gimenez told a full audience inside the county commission chambers.

County elected officials have continued to work on plans to bring a version of the venerable Paris Air Show to the HARB despite a rejection letter from the Secretary of the Air Force last summer.

"I went to the Paris Air Show in 2005, saw what it did, the kind of economic impact it can have on the area," Gimenez said.

The projections top a half billion dollars for the biannual show's economic impact.

The Paris show, held in the suburb Le Bourget, draws more than 2,100 exhibitors and more than 150,000 buyers, more than a third of whom fly in from abroad, according to event producers.

A similar show in Miami-Dade would be the only trade show to bring the aircraft, parts, supplies and support services to one place in the Western Hemisphere.

Such a tradeshow already has a dedicated more than $7 million in General Obligation bond money for infrastructure and roads around the base.

Florida's senators and congressmen and women have already signed off in a bipartisan show of support.

In the rejection letter last summer the Secretary of the U.S. Air Force wrote that a trade show on a U.S. base would require a change in policy, as the Air Force does not permit private aircraft on military runways and he did not support setting that precedent.

Commissioner Lynda Bell, who represents portions of South Miami-Dade, said that argument is flawed.

"That doesn't quite pan out, because they already allowed this with the Salt Lake City Olympics," said Beell. "The thing is, I don't think they knew we knew that."

The county has reason to be optimistic. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta sent a letter last month to Congresswoman Ileana Ros Lehtinen telling her he has directed the Air Force Secretary to revisit his decision.

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