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What Drives KC’s Transportation & Logistics Industry

by Morgan Bell | Dec 06, 2016

Geography is key. A distribution center based in KC can reach 85 percent of the U.S. population in two days or less. The metro area is the country’s largest rail center by tonnage. Five of the nation’s seven Class I railroads serve Kansas City.

The region leads the country in highway lane miles per capita and sits at the intersection of more interstates than most other cities.

In a recent report by Thinking Bigger it was noted that although business for KC SmartPort is good most years, 2016 has been one of the busiest ever. Locally, approximately 9 million sq. ft. of industrial buildings have been built or started in 2016, and that’s just the spec construction.

Kansas City was recently ranked by CBRE as one of the nation’s top 12 inland ports. Another national firm, JLL, included Kansas City on its list of the top 18 distribution markets. “Rail connectivity helps put Kansas City higher on our list,” the JLL report read. “While it may not have the drive-time population or labor analytics of other markets, it still proves to be the link of cross-border rail activity to Mexico and of interchanges with Canada.”

Long-term trends also look positive. Overall U.S. freight tonnage is expected to grow by 35 percent between 2016 and 2027, according to a recent report by the American Trucking Associations. Thanks to the U.S. energy sector, pipeline activity will see some of the biggest gains in market share, but shipping by truck will still grow by 27 percent. Less-than-truckload trucking and private carriers are also predicted to perform better than average.

One concern challenging cities and industries across the country is the need for more workers. Fortunately, the industry is already increasing its recruitment efforts and emphasizing the opportunities it offers. KC SmartPort is actively working with partners throughout the KC region to create greater awareness around supply chain careers. The Kansas City community owns its role as a shipping and logistics hub and continues to invest in that field.

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