Logistics on the Fast Track in Georgia

8 Nov, 2010

By: Heidi Green

Companies moving or expanding their businesses have long had the state of Georgia on their mind. A unique combination of transportation assets, a quality workforce, and business-friendly government and tax policies make this hub of commerce an ideal place for companies to grow their business. Some of the world’s most respected companies pay the state’s agreeable business climate the highest of compliments: Georgia has the United States’ fourth-largest number of Fortune 500 headquarters, including global giants Coca-Cola, UPS and Delta Air Lines.

Streamlining delivery

Success in today’s fast-paced marketplace often depends on who can deliver their goods most quickly and efficiently. To enable companies to receive raw materials and ship products to customers, Georgia provides an unparalleled logistics infrastructure that not only saves them time and money, but provides a solid foundation for competing in a global marketplace by enabling them to quickly and seamlessly reach domestic and international markets through interconnected airports, seaports, rail and roads.

“Georgia’s high-performing network of freight and logistics allows Georgia to be a global hub for moving goods and products throughout the United States and around the world,” says Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue. “New and expanding companies tell us that our logistics system, which can get their products to market anywhere, anytime, was a prime catalyst in their decisions to choose Georgia.”

Through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, consistently the world’s busiest, most efficient airport, businesses can reach 80 percent of the U.S. market within two hours or any major North American city in four hours. Nonstop direct flights reach 151 domestic and more than 80 international destinations in 52 countries. Hartsfield-Jackson is also one of the world’s leading air cargo centers, with 13 cargo lines handling up to 900,000 tons of cargo annually.

Georgia’s state-of-the-art deepwater ports in Savannah and Brunswick are the fourth largest in the country. The Port of Savannah is the fastest-growing port in the U.S., and Brunswick is the South Atlantic’s premier auto-processing facility. Companies can also tap into the state’s 4,700-mile rail network and five major interstates. Georgia companies are within a two-day drive of 80 percent of the United States via more than 1,200 miles on interstate highways and 18,000 miles of federal and state highways.

Warehouses and distribution centers are one of Georgia’s strong suits. Close to 290 warehouse facilities with at least 100 employees or 100,000-square-foot facilities dot the state, and 14 of those facilities exceed one million square feet.

Georgia is also home to cutting-edge research in the logistics and supply chain fields: Georgia Tech’s School of Industrial and Systems Engineering is ranked number one in the U.S. by U.S. News and World Report.

Fueling logistics competitiveness

It’s little wonder that the state is strategically leveraging its wealth of logistical assets to fuel the competitiveness of the industry itself. Georgia is home to the fifth-most logistics workers in the U.S., more than 11,000 logistics service-providers, and 90 percent of the global top 25 third party logistics providers (3PLs). More than 48 of the largest retailers have distribution centers in the state.

Numerous private and public stakeholders are collaborating on a strategic statewide Freight and Logistics Plan for Georgia. Due for completion in 2012, the plan will address Georgia’s logistics needs through the year 2050, guiding the strategic execution of logistics activities and projects to improve the flow of goods into, within and out of the state. For example, the plan is examining ways to accommodate the increase in goods anticipated to move through Georgia as a result of the Panama Canal expansion and the addition of runways at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

This logistics-friendly environment is part of the reason the Material Handling Industry of America (MHIA) recently selected Atlanta as the site of the first MODEX exposition, scheduled for February 2012, calling the state an “emerging gateway to American supply chains."

Atlanta was selected over competing sites as a result of the region’s strategic location for supply chains and logistics. More than 40 percent of North American manufacturing and distribution locations are within a 500 mile radius of Atlanta.

“Industry leaders have taken notice of Atlanta's rapidly expanding circle of influence in the supply-chain industry,” says Bob Pertierra, vice president of supply chain development for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. “The selection of Atlanta as the home for MODEX is yet another milestone for this vibrant strategic industry in the region and the state of Georgia.”

Cultivating success through innovation

One of the forces strengthening resources and opportunities for the logistics industry in Georgia is the state’s Center of Innovation for Logistics ( Center director Page Siplon likes to say the center helps connect “problem holders” with “problem solvers” who can help them find innovative solutions that benefit companies and often the entire industry.

The center assists companies in commercializing new products, services and business models, ensuring they have access to university research and development; marketing data and trends; guidance by industry experts; cross-sector partnerships; and the power made possible by a collective industry voice. Georgia is prime territory for the kind of innovation the center guides, ranking 5th in the U.S. for logistics-related patents.

The Center of Innovation has initiated the only statewide logistics summit in the country. The Georgia Logistics Summit drew 800 people during its second year – almost double its attendance in 2009 and clearly a testament to the wealth of the region’s interest in the subject. Georgia’s annual Logistics Report is a highlight of the summit and provides an overview of the state of the industry in Georgia.

The Center of Innovation works with companies all over the state, leveraging Georgia’s transportation infrastructure to advance the growth of its companies and the logistics industry as a whole. A recent result of its work is, an online platform that connects Georgia’s small-to-medium size shippers and carriers, allowing shippers access to real-time rate quotes, carrier transit times, shipment tendering, track and trace, customer invoicing, and reporting. Ultimately the new website, the result of a collaboration between the center and the company Efreightsolutions, will increase savings for Georgia-based shippers who do business with Georgia-based carriers, helping them save costs and increase efficiency.

“Georgia’s logistics infrastructure is very much its own ecosystem that undergirds all industry in Georgia and abroad. We are continuously improving on the 3 ‘V’s of logistics: volume, velocity and visibility, to provide the kind of logistics support that our companies want and need,” says Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics director Page Siplon. “Our system of logistics works as well as it does due in large part to our partnerships with private industry and our state’s commitment to ensure logistics remains a key competitive asset for Georgia.”

About the Author

Heidi Green