From the President... State Affirms Southeast as a Key Logistics Portal
Logistics – the movement of goods from their production site into the eager hands of end-users – constitutes from 15% to 20% of the total cost of a finished product, according to the World Trade Organization. As energy costs continue rising, businesses are seeking solutions for constraining logistics costs while still reliably meeting demand and maintaining profit margins. The trend is good news for Southeastern North Carolina, whose accessible geography, multi-modal transportation assets and affordable business costs make it a natural choice for global logistics operations.
Our region’s advantages were recently highlighted in a report issued by the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the Governor’s Logistics Task Force. The report, Seven Portals Study: An Investigation of How Economic Development Can Be Encouraged in North Carolina Through Infrastructure Investment, was conducted in collaboration with leading engineering, economics and business faculty at six of the state’s public universities. Among its goals was the identification of a series of “logistics villages” around the state that could be leveraged for job growth and capital investment.
Researchers found four potential “logistics villages” in the Southeast Region. Three of these centered on our larger aviation facilities: the Fayetteville Regional Airport, Laurinburg-Maxton Airport and Wilmington International Airport. A fourth site, the International Logistics Park straddling Brunswick and Columbus counties, also caught the eye of researchers. Lastly, extensive global trade infrastructure in Greater Wilmington spurs opportunities for a “Virtual Logistics Village” there, the study found. The five villages leverage the region’s strategic Mid-Atlantic location, proximity to the Port of Wilmington, nearby railroads and Interstates, abundant and affordable lands, and large supplies of trainable, reliable workers.
The Seven Portals report calls on the state to re-dedicate itself to hard assets such as the Port of Wilmington and the N.C. Railroad, while also cultivating human factors such as training programs and educational curricula needed to shape a globally-competitive logistics workforce. North Carolina also should become the nation’s “best wired” state, says the report, noting the use of advanced technologies in inventory management and just-in-time delivery.
Enhancing our infrastructure and human assets will energize the Southeast Region’s efforts to grow logistics jobs and investment. It will also strengthen our cluster development efforts in defense industries, value-added agribusiness, metalworking and other target industries. The “Seven Portals” report is an encouraging blueprint for how our region can emerge as a long-term winner in the global economy.