Audrey Spalding
The Star's editorial board writes that the Aerotropolis tax credits, which would heavily subsidize warehouse and facility construction near the Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, become "more dubious the closer one looks."

Despite Aerotropolis proponents' tendency to dismiss every expert who dares to cast doubts on the proposal, yet another one has come forward. The latest person is none other than Tom McKenna, marketing director for the Kansas City International Airport. McKenna told the Star the following:
Not everybody can buy their way into being an air cargo hub or aerotropolis.

And:
To think you would get them to break out the Asian stuff, or just the China stuff, and incentivize them to aggregate that in St. Louis doesn’t make any sense. It’s not going to happen. … Missouri taxpayers should be very concerned about this.

At this point, the Aerotropolis tax credits make almost no sense. Proponents have not demonstrated that there is a lack of warehouse space, despite their plans to award up to $300 million to subsidize warehouse construction (or could the money actually end up going to existing structures?).

The very public commission pushing for the subsidies has not provided a feasibility study for the Aerotropolis concept. And what about the provision that appears to award a great deal of power to the mayor of Saint Louis or to the nearby county executives?

And now, McKenna is yet another high-ranking official questioning the wisdom of the project itself. He joins Roel Andriesson, senior vice president of international sales for Tyson (yes, that Tyson), Greg Lindsay, author of the very book on the Aerotropolis concept, and two air cargo consultants.

Supporters of the Show-Me Institute have said that we are "bold" to raise these questions. But really, what is bold about asking for a justification for taking $360 million from Missouri taxpayers in order to award it to a small group of well-connected individuals? Actually, isn't it bold to ask for $360 million without any substantive analysis as to why the subsidy is needed?

I have to wonder, given the number of unanswered questions regarding the Aerotropolis legislation and the project itself, when will elected officials start voicing their private concerns about Aerotropolis publicly?

I agree with the Star. The cost of these tax credits, $360 million, is "eyebrow raising." But raised eyebrows alone won't fix it.

About the Author

Audrey Spalding