Miami-Dade's Beacon Council meets with Air Force in Washington DC to win OK for aerospace mart
By Zachary Fagenson
The Beacon Council says it's confident it will get the go-ahead from the military for a massive commercial air show slated to be held near Homestead Air Reserve Base in 2012.
The county's economic development agency this month sent staff and board members to Washington to meet with Florida lawmakers and Air Force leadership for permission to use 54 acres adjacent to the base and its runway during the show.
"We have received and responded to a series of question from the Air Force, which is part of the process of getting permission," said Beacon Council President and CEO Frank Nero.
The Beacon Council also recently had three of its staff and board members in France working with the organizers of the Paris Air Show to learn how such a massive production works.
Mr. Nero couldn't provide a timeline for when the council will get final military approval, which may have to come from the secretary of the Air Force, but said "we don't think that that's going to be an issue, quite frankly."
The military's nod is crucial in order for the Beacon Council to receive the $7.5 million that Miami-Dade commissioners recently voted to use to fund improvements on the show's site.
"There'll be some other meetings that may be required," Mr. Nero added, "but, quite frankly, we're going through the process as the Air Force has outlined to us they want us to follow."
The Beacon Council has pitched the show, to be held in summer 2012, as a five-day event that could pull in about 200,000 public attendees, house more than 800 exhibitors and generate up to $100 million in hotel reservations, day pass sales and parking.
There would be some public events, but it would be mainly an industry trade show, with countries and airlines buying planes and supplies from some of the world's largest manufacturers.
On top of that, the Beacon Council is working to put in place all the other pieces of the puzzle to get the show off the ground.
Mr. Nero said his organization is still in talks with major aviation manufacturers — like Boeing and Northrop Grumann — that would serve as anchor exhibitors, but he wouldn't specify which ones.
Awebsite,www.miami-internationalaerospaceshow.com, is up and running and finally the Beacon Council is talking to potential show operators and firming up negotiations for the site.
"We are in the process of looking at potential organization structures legally that would actually be the entity that would oversee the show," Mr. Nero said, "and we are also in the process of developing a lease proposal for the land for the county."
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