Six of the Ten Top Logistics/Distribution/Shipping Hubs are located in the South, according to Business Facilities’ 2011 Metro Rankings

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Memphis, TN repeats as the first-place finisher in the Top Logistics/Distribution/Shipping Hubs category in Business Facilities’ 2011 Metro Rankings. Followed by Chicago and Houston. Six of the top ten logistics Hubs are located in the south including Memphis, Houston, New Orleans, Mobile, Charleston and Savannah.



The world headquarters of FedEx, Memphis International Airport has the distinction of being the busiest cargo airport in the world and also a major passenger airline hub. Memphis is also located on the Mississippi River and Interstates 40 and 55. Additionally, it is crossed by five Class I railroads. Memphis has the air, land and water infrastructure in place to connect it to major markets both national and international.


With the third-largest intermodal port in the world after Hong Kong and Singapore, Chicago also links to six of the seven Class I railroads as well as nine interstate highways. Midway International Airport and O’Hare International Airport — the third busiest in the world — provide passenger and freight service across the world. The Illinois and Michigan Canal allows for the transportation of goods from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River and beyond, and the Port of Chicago is a critical link between the inland-river system, the Great Lakes and the global markets.


Natural resources (mostly oil and gas exploration and production) constitute much of Houston’s gross area product. The city is served by three airports, including George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Additionally, the Port of Houston has handled more foreign waterborne tonnage than any other port in the U.S. for 14 consecutive years and the city is also located along the proposed Interstate 69 NAFTA superhighway linking Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.


Home to the busiest port in the nation, Los Angeles is also the second-largest city in the United States. The port itself claims to generate more than 3.3 million jobs across the nation and constitutes 43 miles of waterfront. In 2010, it handled 157.8 million metric revenue tons of cargo worth $236.4 billion. Along with the Los Angeles International Airport, the area’s five other major commercial airports, its extensive freeway system and freight rail, Los Angeles is the premiere logistics hub in the western US.


Situated at the center of the world’s busiest port complex, New Orleans is home to the Port of New Orleans and is very near the Port of South Louisiana — the largest volume shipping port in the Western Hemisphere. Six Class I railroads service the port itself, and, like Houston, much of the city’s industry is synonymous with oil production. Interstates 10, 610 and 510 serve the city and the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport handled over 52,600 metric tons of freight and mail in 2010.


The Port of New York and New Jersey is the largest port on the East Coast of North America and has seen its cargo volume grow since the economic downturn. Cargo volumes in 2010 rose 16 percent over 2009, approaching near-record levels of 5.3 million 20-foot equivalent units. In all, the Port encompasses 1,500 square miles of land and manages more than two dozen facilities, including John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, the George Washington Bridge, the Lincoln Tunnel and four distinct marine terminals. This year, the Port Authority will invest $283 million in seaport-related improvements to improve port capacity and efficiency.


Philadelphia offers many competitive advantages to the logistics sector with many highway, air, rail and water connections. The city’s proximity to the New Jersey Turnpike combined with the dozens of major distribution and warehouse facilities located within 75 miles of the Port of Philadelphia make it a major shipping hub for the public, private and government sectors. Additionally, the Philadelphia International Airport has undergone more than $1 billion in capital improvements and has received final approval from the FAA for an additional $5 billion-plus expansion. Norfolk Southern, one of three Class I railroads servicing the Port of Philadelphia, also plans to expand its extensive rail yard in South Philadelphia.


The Port of Mobile includes 4,000 acres and 4 million square feet of warehouse and open yards on the central Gulf Coast. Two major interstates and four Class I railroads serve the city, with lower connections converging at the city’s port. Positioned in Mobile Bay, shippers enjoy direct access to 1,500 miles of inland waterways extending to the Great Lakes, the Ohio and Tennessee river valleys and, of course, the Gulf of Mexico. Interstates 10 and 65 provide highway access and the Brookley Complex, also known as the Mobile Downtown Airport, handles cargo airfreight just a few miles south of the city’s central business district.


Home to some of the busiest and most efficient marine terminals on the Eastern seaboard, Charleston Harbor also has some of the deepest channels — up to 48 feet — in the Southeast. The Port of Charleston plans to invest more than $1 billion in new and existing marine terminals over the next decade. And with approximately 20 million square feet of industrial distribution space in the works within 30 miles of the port, things will only get busier in Charleston. Interstate 26 and its numerous connections provide ample road access and CSX and Norfolk Southern railroads both serve the city. Charleston International Airport also facilitates airfreight with its dedicated air cargo facilities.


The Port of Savannah, operated by the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) serves 75 percent of the U.S. population as the fourth largest container port in the U.S. It's growth in trade with India, the Middle East and the Mediterranean basin through Maersk Line has made it the fastest-growing container terminal in the country. In addition, Georgia boasts easy access to the U.S. highway network, the most extensive railroad network in the Southeast and the world's busiest passenger airport (Hartsfield-Jackson) with a top 10-ranked international air cargo hub. The GPA is working toward a large-scale effort to deepen the Savannah River from 42 feet to as much as 48 feet. The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) will allow for newer and larger ships that will be coming to Eastern ports after the Panama Canal Expansion is complete. The GPA Environmental Impact Study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in the public comment stage and scheduled for final approval next year. Based on existing forecasts, construction on the SHEP will be undertaken from 2012 to 2016.

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