America's 50 most logistics-friendly cities

#1 - Cleveland
#9 - Detroit
#6 - Houston
by Bill King and Michael Keating

When most people think of Starbucks , they think of coffee. With a diverse product portfolio and thousands of retail locations scattered throughout the world, though, coffee is far from the only thing on the Seattle-based company's mind.

Just getting its product to market represents a huge logistics challenge. After all,Starbucks Coffee Co. is the leading retailer, roaster and brand of specialty coffee in the world, with more than 7,500 retail locations in North America, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and the Pacific Rim. In addition to its retail operations, the company's brand portfolio provides a variety of consumer products, which also includes premium teas, compact discs and a number of other coffee flavor profiles.

Earlier this spring, the company announced its intention to establish a 125,000 square foot distribution center in suburban Nashville. The distribution center will provide logistics and shipping services to 900 Starbucks locations from Wisconsin to Florida. The facility will be operated by Ozburn-Hessey Logistics (OHL), a third-party logistics provider (3PL) that operates warehouse and distribution facilities in 25 cities across 13 states. Nashville was selected over three other states.

Just as the Starbucks brand is top of mind when most people think of coffee, Memphis — Tennessee's westernmost city — has successfully branded itself as North America's Logistics Center. With 21% of its work force employed in distribution-related industries, Memphis is home to more than 130 million square feet of distribution space. Memphis is also home to both FedEx Corp. and Ingram Micro Inc., a wholesale distributor of computer products.

FedEx is not the only overnight courier to set up shop in Memphis. In mid-September, DHL announced it would open a $3 million sorting center in Memphis as part of a $1.2 billion effort to upgrade its U.S. package delivery operations and increase its market share from less than 10% percent to roughly 20%.

DHL also plans a major consolidation and expansion of its Wilmington, Ohio, operations. The project is expected to create 900 full-and part-time jobs and retain 6,000 positions. Ohio was in competition with Kentucky-for the expansion and consolidation-project.

DHL plans to expand the Wilmington operation to accommodate the addition of ground sorting operations. These updates include new building construction, airport ramp improvements, and the purchase of new machinery and equipment.

Logistics providers are not the only ones expanding their distribution facilities.

The nation's leading retailer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., will expand its James City County distribution facility in James City County, Va. The $28.5 million investment will result in 125 new jobs.

The James City County facility is used as an import storage facility. Products are imported there and stored or distributed on a seasonal basis to Wal-Mart's regional distribution centers. The company will construct a separate 1 million square foot building on 243 additional acres for this project.

"The expansion of the James City distribution center will provide Wal-Mart the opportunity to better serve the growing number of customers who shop at our stores in the Mid-Atlantic region," says Rollin Ford, executive vice president of logistics and supply chain. "This is a significant project that represents our continued commitment to Virginia as a partner in both economic development and community."

Wal-Mart employs more than 1.3 million people worldwide through more than 3,200 facilities in the U.S. and more than 1,100 units in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, China, Korea, Germany and the U.K. Reportedly, more than 100 million consumers per week visit Wal-Mart stores worldwide.

States are not only aggressively recruiting-these types of facilities, they are willing to put their money where their mouth is.

In the case of Wal-Mart, the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, with help from Rockingham County and the Shenandoah Valley Partnership, prepared the state's proposal and negotiated an incentive package to secure the project for Virginia. Gov. Mark Warner approved a $400,000 performance-based grant from the Virginia Investment Partnership (VIP) program to close the deal.

The VIP program offers financial assistance to existing Virginia companies proposing significant expansion projects. The Virginia Department of Business Assistance will support the project through its Workforce Services program.

The story behind the numbers
For the past four years, Expansion Management magazine and Logistics Today have combined to produce an annual ranking of the most logistics-friendly cities in the U.S.

As in years past, the study takes a look at the 331 metropolitan statistical areas (MSA) established by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, and compares them according to 10 major categories: the overall transportation & distribution industry climate, work force/labor costs/availability/skill levels; road/ highway basic infrastructure and spending; road density/congestion/truck safety; road conditions; fuel taxes & fees; railroad access; water ports (both river/lake and ocean); air service; and interstate highway access (both main and auxiliary routes).

The data come from a wide variety of public sources.

Although metro areas that generally had a broad range of logisticssupporting infrastructure (ground, air, water/sea and rail) in place did well, the quality and strength of the road and highway network was the most important transportation factor. Granted, if your business is built around 24-hour nationwide turnaround, then being next to a major FedEx or

UPS air hub is more important than how many highway lanes there are going in and out of the metro. For most American businesses, though, highways are the most common mode of transportation.

In 2003, OMB expanded the number of MSAs to 370, including eight in Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, there is insufficient data available to include these new MSAs in our Site Selector study. Beginning with next year's study, however, the Site Selector will expand to include all 370 metro areas.

In the transportation and distribution (T&D) industry climate category, we tried to get a feel for the overall strength and vitality of the transportation and distribution sectors within the various cities. We looked at things such as the number of establishments, the amount of revenue and the amount of revenue per employee (as a rough measurement of productivity).

In the work force and labor category, we looked at the cost and availability of labor in the various T&D sectors. We also looked at the percentage of the overall work force that is engaged in transportation and distribution activities. Since this survey is done from the employer's perspective, lower wages are considered better, as are larger numbers of workers in the industry.

The next five categories involve road transportation.

Road infrastructure and spending attempts to gauge the road infrastructure in proportion to the metro area's population. Road density/congestion/ safety attempts to measure the adequacy of a metro's highway network. Road conditions are also important because they, too, have a significant impact on traffic flow, not to mention wear and tear. In this category, we looked at the conditions of major roads and interstate highways, both urban and rural, as well as the condition of bridges along those thoroughfares.

In the interstate highway network category we looked at the actual number of interstate highways servicing that particular metro area, as well as the number of auxiliary routes (otherwise known as loops or beltways).

In the final road-related category, we looked at vehicle taxes and fees in order to measure some of the costs of transiting each of the metro areas, as well as the

states in which they reside. In this category, we looked primarily at gas and diesel taxes. The primary source for this data was Nauset Hill Inc.

The final three categories are rail, water and air.

In the railroad service category, we looked at the number of freight and Class I railroads that service the area. We also looked at things like miles of track, tons of cargo carried over those freight and Class I lines, as well as the safety record of railroads within that state.

The water ports category includes both ocean-going vessel ports and river ports, which account for a tremendous volume of cargo tonnage. And it's not limited to just the coastal cities, either. Cities like St. Louis and Cincinnati both pass a lot of cargo through their inland ports.

The final category we looked at is air service. In this category we looked at things such as major carrier service, enplaned passenger and freight volume, and cargo airports. Data came from the Federal Aviation Administration and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

When comparing the rankings of the top 50 cities, keep in mind that the difference between, say, No. 1 and No.15 is probably negligible. Both are pretty darn good.

Another factor to remember is that, just as all politics are local, logistics is regional. When you look at these rankings, what matters is not a city's overall ranking, but rather its ranking in comparison to other cities in the particular region you are considering.

Finally, as you look at the chart below, pay particular attention to the categories that are most important to your company. If you don't ship by air or water, rankings in those categories really don't matter and should be discounted. Likewise, if you do ship mainly by rail or air or sea, discount the road-related categories. LT

Bill King is the chief editor of Expansion Management (www.expansionmanagement.com), Logistics Today's sister publication, and can be reached at [email protected]. Michael Keating is the senior research analyst for Expansion Management and can be reached at [email protected].

The Most Logistics-Friendly Cities in America
2004
Regional
Rank
Metropolitan Area
1 Cleveland-Lorain-Elyria, Ohio 18 97 118 97 123 10 147 11 17 38 4 16 13
2 St. Louis, Mo. 2 40 200 228 138 10 94 3 23 27 14 23 19
3 Oakland, Calif. 21 80 28 121 260 4 161 57 21 17 35 28 5
4 Chicago, Ill. 6 154 107 320 35 2 195 1 33 3 43 35 16
5 Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn. 8 95 248 243 4 10 109 14 44 25 6 4 9
6 Houston, Texas 7 111 174 268 92 54 116 14 2 6 7 15 11
7 Kansas City, Mo.-Kansas City, Kan. 15 108 249 53 152 10 145 9 55 33 12 14 21
8 Baltimore, Md. 14 59 136 147 207 3 98 96 19 22 55 29 32
9 Detroit, Mich. 5 72 149 323 178 10 50 36 24 23 64 30 66
10 New York, N.Y. 11 197 9 177 225 1 271 53 3 1 28 39 81
11 Pittsburgh, Pa. 18 117 76 76 310 18 297 28 12 10 26 22 41
12 Atlanta, Ga. 4 26 259 308 6 16 2 32 165 8 3 3 12
13 Philadelphia, Pa. 9 145 27 259 303 16 188 38 6 12 20 45 50
14 Louisville, Ky. 37 134 225 193 145 18 82 6 43 55 11 7 2
15 New Orleans, La. 39 24 264 211 238 32 42 61 1 42 24 52 97
16 Los Angeles-Long Beach, Calif. 2 91 28 296 260 4 161 140 4 2 30 12 8
17 Savannah, Ga. 90 10 259 154 6 54 2 76 31 108 1 1 1
18 Newark, N.J. 10 136 1 177 286 18 19 66 165 19 33 49 22
19 Toledo, Ohio 72 51 118 221 123 18 147 24 40 104 5 47 46
20 Cincinnati, Ohio 40 182 209 224 157 18 102 29 38 28 48 26 15
21 Jacksonville, Fla. 23 67 56 238 11 54 248 129 35 48 31 2 6
22 Miami, Fla. 1 6 56 328 11 32 248 207 42 5 41 19 18
23 Indianapolis, Ind. 24 153 161 283 79 18 63 21 165 34 15 25 23
24 San Francisco, Calif. 54 213 28 218 260 4 161 57 67 10 37 18 10
25 Dallas, Texas 12 248 174 244 92 4 116 7 165 9 17 31 31
26 Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport News, Va. 56 156 325 227 56 18 80 92 18 39 29 51 37
27 Nashville, Tenn. 41 155 203 176 119 54 63 102 50 43 2 10 3
28 Mobile, Ala. 86 33 214 236 196 54 31 32 15 112 27 11 17
29 Gary, Ind. IN 3 161 320 79 10 63 2 22 274 51 50 45
30 Albany-Schenectady-Troy, N.Y. 91 89 9 91 225 18 271 102 45 69 53 63 162
31 San Diego, Calif. 47 87 28 204 260 32 161 140 60 24 38 9 7
32 Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas 42 145 174 244 92 4 116 7 165 70 13 42 29
33 Richmond-Petersburg, Va. 43 37 143 86 146 18 86 254 62 49 36 38 14
34 Columbus, Ohio 36 132 118 244 123 32 147 24 165 37 16 48 49
35 Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash. 22 126 96 259 166 54 324 71 29 18 32 34 64
36 Tulsa, Okla. 59 116 290 115 306 54 7 30 65 61 56 73 76
37 San Antonio, Texas 51 93 174 125 92 32 116 105 165 45 22 32 26
38 Memphis, Tenn. 37 259 226 304 151 54 94 39 36 16 19 41 43
39 Portland, Ore.-Vancouver, Wash. 16 102 256 250 159 32 296 78 16 32 68 119 62
40 Birmingham, Ala. 53 109 214 201 196 32 31 32 165 56 21 13 20
41 Buffalo-Niagara Falls, N.Y. 62 174 9 125 225 54 271 73 68 58 75 88 186
42 Milwaukee-Waukesha, Wis. 24 43 229 314 65 32 314 79 56 44 92 115 98
43 Akron, Ohio 75 187 118 102 123 32 147 24 165 93 46 94 85
44 Grand Rapids-Muskegon-Holland, Mich. 52 130 149 251 178 54 50 114 64 66 96 93 102
45 Fort Lauderdale, Fla. 55 97 56 318 11 54 248 207 30 21 106 69 24
46 Bergen-Passaic, N.J. 48 142 1 177 286 54 19 66 165 89 118 112 110
47 Middlesex-Somerset-Hunterdon, N.J. 30 112 1 177 286 100 19 66 165 82 152 137 135
48 Youngstown-Warren, Ohio 80 76 118 112 123 54 147 5 165 167 81 105 106
49 Nassau-Suffolk, N.Y. 26 97 9 177 225 161 271 53 59 71 182 242 242
50 Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. 35 94 56 331 11 18 248 304 13 20 61 27 25
Based on material developed by Expansion Management and Logistics Today

Resources:
DHL
FedEx Corp.
Ingram Micro Inc.
Ozburn-Hessey Logistics
Starbucks Coffee Co.
UPS
U.S. Office of Management and Budget
Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
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