The Top 50 Logistics-Friendly Cities in the U.S., 2005

Click here to access the complete list of all 362 metropolitan areas

Since the beginning of time, cities have come and gone based upon their proximity to a major transportation artery. In fact, nothing is quite so important to a region's economy than the transportation infrastructure upon which it moves. Without a doubt, transportation is the foundation upon which all logistics is built.

Whether a company is setting up a manufacturing facility, distribution center, retail outlet or whatever, it is absolutelycritical that the location it chooses be supported by a robust transportation infrastructure. Regardless of the specific type of facility, it will need to be able to quickly and economically move raw materials, supplies and finished products in and out.

Sure, it's important to look closely at other factors, such as the local work force, business climate, taxes and real estate prices — to mention just a few. But all of those factors can be mitigated in some form or fashion. Not having the transportation infrastructure you require, however, will almost always get a location removed from your list of possibilities.

So important is this as a site location factor that, for the past five years, Expansion Management and Logistics Today magazines have teamed up to produce our annual Site Selector ranking of the most logistics-friendly metros in the U.S.

The study evaluates the overall logistics infrastructure of our nation's 362 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) based upon 10 major categories, including the transportation and distribution (T&D) industry, T&D work force, road infrastructure, road congestion, road conditions, interstate highway access, vehicle taxes and fees, railroad access, water port access and air cargo access.

Topping this year's list as the most logisticsfriendly metro is the metropolitan New York area, followed by Houston, Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit.

Rounding out the top 10 are St. Louis, Minneapolis-St. Paul, San Francisco-Oakland, Kansas City and Jacksonville, Fla.

The Site Selector ranks metro areas according to 10 major categories, as described below. Together, they give a pretty comprehensive overview of a region's logistics infrastructure:

Transportation and Distribution Industry. This category attempts to get a feel for the depth and strength of the metrowide T&D industry and includes the number of companies in the metro area that are engaged in the transportation and warehousing (T&D) industry sector, along with the annual revenue generated by the T&D industry sector. Information comes from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The top five metros in this category are Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Houston and Miami.

Transportation and Distribution Work Force. This category attempts to get a feel for the depth and cost of the metrowide T&D work force and includes the total annual payroll of companies in the T&D industry sector, the total number of employees, the average salary and the T&D revenue per employee. Information comes from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The top five metros in this category are St. Louis, Louisville, Fayetteville, Ark., Miami and El Paso, Tex.

Interstate Highway Access. This category focuses on the interstate highway infrastructure and includes the number of interstate highways that pass through the metro area, as well as the number of interstate auxiliary routes (i.e., beltways, bypasses, etc.). Information comes from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

The top five metros in this category are New York, Chicago, Baltimore, Dallas-Fort Worth and Cleveland.

Road Conditions. This category includes the average roughness of the metro area's roads, as well as the percentage of bridges that are obsolete or structurally deficient, including five-year trends, according to FHWA information.

Road Congestion. Whether a metro area has adequate roads depends upon the amount of traffic using those roads. What is considered an adequate infrastructure for Huntsville, Ala., is clearly insufficient for a city like Atlanta. This category includes such things as roadway miles per capita, total miles of freeways, average daily freeway traffic and average daily traffic per freeway lane. Information comes from the FHWA.

Road Infrastructure. This category attempts to look into the future in terms of keeping up with an adequate road infrastructure. It includes public roads mileage, capital outlay for roads and bridges, highway maintenance per mile and spending for highway law enforcement. according to FHWA data.

Vehicle Taxes and Fees. This category includes highway user taxes and fees, as well as motor fuel excise taxes. Data on state and federal highway user taxes and fees was provided by the Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association, while data on motor fuel excise taxes was provided by the Federation of Tax Administrators.

Railroad Access. This category includes the number of railroad carriers that service a metro. The data comes from ALK Technologies Inc.

The top five metros in this category are Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and St. Louis.

Water Port Access. This category includes total tonnage for all ports located within the confines of the metro area and comes from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center.

The top five metros in this category are New Orleans, Houston, New York, Los Angeles and Beaumont, Tex.

Air Cargo Access. This category includes the number of air courier companies, as well as the total air cargo tonnage for the metro. The data comes from the Federal Aviation Administration, as well as from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

The top five metros in this category are New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Miami.

It is important to remember that the overall rankings represent a city's overall strength in all categories. However, for your company's purposes, perhaps not every category is important as others.

For that reason, it's a good idea to look at a metro's ranking in each category and assign your own weight to that category based upon its importance to you.

For example, if your company doesn't use rail or water or air cargo, then those categories are obviously less important. Conversely, if your company does rely heavily on one or more of those modes, then the ground transportation categories should be weighted less. That is how the Site Selector is designed to be used.

Along those lines, a few words about rankings in general. Rankings are simply a reflection of how we as individuals make decisions — we gather data, evaluate it, prioritize it and see what comes up.

The most important factor when looking at ratings is to understand the criteria upon which those ratings/rankings are based. If the initial set of criteria makes sense to you, then the results should make sense to you as well.

If it doesn't, then you need to go back and reexamine your criteria. In other words, if you don't like the results, don't shoot the messenger.

Editor's note: The rankings for the Site Selector are based on data for calendar year 2004, and thus do not factor in the effects of Hurricane Katrina.

Bill King is chief editor of Expansion Management magazine, Logistics Today's sister magazine, and can be reached at [email protected]. Michael Keating is the senior research editor of Expansion Management and can be reached at [email protected]

2005 National Rank 2004 National Rank Change from 2004 Metropolitan Area T&D Industry Metro Rank Work Force Labor Metro Rank Road Infrastructure Metro Rank Road D/C/S Metro Rank Road Condition State Rank Interstate Highways Metro Rank Taxes & Fees State Rank Railroad State Rank Waterborne Commerce Metro Rank Air Cargo Metro Rank
1 10 +9 New York, NY 3 38 5 238 339 1 170 2 3 1
2 6 +4 Houston, TX 4 33 145 322 134 52 90 17 2 6
3 4 +1 Chicago, IL 1 65 117 341 75 2 288 1 10 3
4 1 -3 Cleveland, OH 24 46 120 112 186 5 241 17 31 38
5 9 +4 Detroit, MI 8 41 130 348 221 5 70 7 27 23
6 2 -4 St. Louis, MO 12 1 202 264 179 5 177 5 21 27
7 5 -2 Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN 13 96 213 291 18 5 169 7 41 25
8 24 +16 San Francisco-Oakland, CA 17 87 41 209 288 12 184 34 17 10
9 7 -2 Kansas City, MO 22 11 267 93 208 9 165 17 51 33
10 21 +11 Jacksonville, FL 27 21 17 283 24 52 251 63 29 48
11 14 -3 Louisville, KY 29 2 205 220 214 15 121 10 39 55
12 13 -2 Philadelphia, PA 7 60 82 283 328 15 219 3 6 12
13 8 -5 Baltimore, MD 19 30 118 241 277 3 220 34 16 22
14 16 +2 Los Angeles, CA 2 26 41 302 288 9 184 102 4 2
15 58 +43 Boston, MA 10 55 83 270 341 23 139 34 23 7
16 22 +6 Miami, FL 5 4 17 355 24 36 251 151 19 5
17 26 +10 Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA 39 86 199 233 178 36 61 34 15 39
18 11 -7 Pittsburgh, PA 25 99 84 82 342 23 340 4 14 10
19 20 +1 Cincinnati, OH 28 66 185 234 185 15 157 34 37 28
20 61 +41 Washington, DC 10 18 187 293 209 9 122 63 72 4
21 25 +4 Dallas-Fort Worth, TX 8 90 145 279 134 4 90 7 178 9
22 35 +13 Seattle-Tacoma, WA 14 78 72 247 241 52 310 15 13 18
23 15 -8 New Orleans, LA 20 26 296 252 277 52 62 17 1 42
24 12 -12 Atlanta, GA 6 100 278 341 4 12 1 34 178 8
25 17 -8 Savannah, GA 84 12 278 244 4 52 1 63 28 108
Source: Based on material developed by Expansion Management and Logistics Today


2005 National Rank 2004 National Rank Change from 2004 Metropolitan Area D Industry Metro Rank Work Force Labor Metro Rank Road Infrastructure Metro Rank Road D/C/S Metro Rank Road Condition State Rank Interstate Highways Metro Rank Taxes & Fees State Rank Railroad State Rank Waterborne Commerce Metro Rank Air Cargo Metro Rank
26 27 +1 Nashville, TN 36 64 226 231 81 36 84 102 48 43
27 31 +4 San Diego, CA 34 10 41 249 288 23 184 102 55 24
28 23 -5 Indianapolis, IN 26 23 145 323 87 12 128 34 178 34
29 38 +9 Memphis, TN 22 122 274 336 133 52 123 34 30 16
30 41 +11 Buffalo, NY 45 14 6 157 317 81 297 6 65 58
31 30 -1 Albany, NY 80 96 6 144 317 15 297 34 40 69
32 74 +43 Sacramento, CA 49 32 41 303 288 52 184 34 73 36
33 37 +4 San Antonio, TX 42 19 145 172 134 23 90 102 178 45
34 56 +22 Chattanooga, TN 100 77 252 176 49 52 29 63 54 113
35 52 +17 Rochester, NY 77 28 6 146 317 52 297 10 79 65
36 64 +28 Phoenix, AZ 15 39 111 339 44 81 214 24 178 13
37 39 +2 Portland, OR 18 89 212 289 220 36 336 10 20 32
38 36 -2 Tulsa, OK 44 92 296 101 332 81 16 34 58 61
39 81 +42 Denver, CO 21 71 104 296 125 15 229 63 178 15
40 33 -7 Richmond, VA 45 109 188 133 161 15 36 225 59 49
41 63 +22 Syracuse, NY 69 37 6 61 317 36 297 102 75 67
42 40 -2 Birmingham, AL 50 69 214 244 197 23 48 24 178 56
43 19 -24 Toledo, OH 75 108 120 257 186 15 241 34 34 104
44 42 -2 Milwaukee, WI 33 24 241 335 53 36 352 63 52 44
45 50 +5 Tampa-St. Petersburg, FL 31 16 17 362 24 23 251 310 12 20
46 59 +13 Charleston, SC 61 13 335 222 169 120 20 63 25 84
47 34 -13 Columbus, OH 32 68 120 226 186 36 241 34 178 37
48 28 -20 Mobile, AL 70 63 214 272 197 52 48 24 83 112
49 59 +10 Little Rock, AR 61 56 258 76 210 23 171 34 178 74
50 78 +28 Salt Lake City, UT 35 60 145 333 19 23 222 102 178 35
The complete list of all 362 metropolitan areas can be found at
http://logisticstoday.com/siteselection/SiteSelector-top362cities.pdf
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