Region’s Logistics Assets Highlighted at Retail Industry Trade Show


The Southeast’s unique appeal as a destination for distribution facilities is based on multi-modal transportation assets, central location and ready-to-build acreage. The region’s economic developers took that message directly to the world’s most prominent retailers at the Logistics 2013 conference and trade show in Orlando, Fla., organized by the Retail Industry Leadership Association (RILA).

“The conference is an annual opportunity to bring together retailers from around the country and around the world to talk about their global supply-chain and logistics needs,” says Jimmy Yokeley, director of community economic development at the North Carolina State Ports Authority. Mr. Yokeley was one of four representatives to staff the Southeast Region’s trade show booth there. Brunswick County Economic Development Commission’s Jim Bradshaw, N.C. Southeast marketing research manager Bart Richardson and Rick Benton of Wilmington Business Development also participated in the mid-February event.

“We exhibit and talk to retailers dropping by our booth,” Mr. Yokeley explains. “We also proactively seek out retailers that we think would be good targets for our region, and we sit down with them to discuss expansion plans for their global distribution, assembly and manufacturing.”  The annual event draws 1,400 attendees. Large and mid-sized retailers from Ace Hardware to Williams Sonoma send top executives and management-level staff. “We inform retailers that we have the greatest amount of shovel-ready acreage within 20 miles of the Port of Wilmington than any other port in the country,” Mr. Yokeley says.

Logistics 2013 also included presentations, panel discussions and expert speakers. Conference sessions focused on changing supply-chain models, emerging technologies and economic forecasting. “The RILA conference is a marketing function for us, but it is also educational,” Mr. Yokeley says. Rising fuel and labor costs, for example, are luring apparel manufacturers from China to Central America and the Caribbean. “Speed-to-market, logistics and costs are driving these moves,” says Mr. Yokeley. With quality sites and ready shipping routes between Wilmington and Latin America, the Southeast Region is positioned well to benefit from the trend.