Emerging Hubs for Global Logistics

While the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach process over 14 million containers a year and remain unmatched in terms of sheer volume, new hubs are changing the face of the global logistics and supply chain industry.

These hubs are being developed to provide more efficient routing, alleviate already congested ports, and support the growing demands of the internet era.

According to real-estate brokerage CBRE’s Head of U.S. Industrial Research, David Egan, new hubs are being chosen based on their infrastructure investment, pro-trade policies and direct connections to both manufacturing centers and growing populations of consumers.

“These places tend to cluster around major transportation hubs, major ports, major manufacturing and major consumption,” says Egan. “They’re places where cargo and people come together.”

Alleviating California’s Congestion

One emerging player in global logistics is a familiar name to West Coast providers: Oakland. Oakland, California has for years been a leading West Coast gateway for outbound goods, but with recent approval of a 170-acre Seaport Logistics Complex, the hope is that the city will become a more attractive destination for inbound shipments.

“We’re pleased to engage with one of the most respected names in industrial development,” said John Driscoll, Oakland’s maritime director. “And we’re excited to realize our vision for the Seaport Logistics Complex.”

Another notable West Coast hub seeing significant development is Seattle. Egan describes Seattle’s port as friendly towards shipping and logistics, with its “mature and sophisticated technology and tech manufacturing economy” connecting it to the global market.

East Coast on the Rise

Developing alongside West Coast hubs are East Coast counterparts. Philadelphia and Miami have been singled out specifically by Egan as prime for increased roles in global logistics.

Miami’s already well-supported seaport and expanded transportation infrastructure make it ideal for transporting incoming goods to eastern and southern manufacturing centers. Philadelphia, as well as the entire Eastern Pennsylvania region, benefits from close proximity to dense population centers where goods are manufactured and warehoused.

Third Coast Options

One of the more surprising trends is the emergence of so-called “third coast” logistics hubs, those that lie outside the traditional hubs found on East and West Coast ports. Houston in particular has seen an unrivaled boom in the shipping sector–with a 20 percent increase in loaded container units and a 26 percent rise in imported steel tonnage.

“When shippers think about the Gulf, it’s usually in terms of energy-related bulk and breakbulk goods,” said John Moseley, senior director of trade development for the Port of Houston. “But our volumes have increased steadily since the congestion crisis hit the West Coast, and we are building the infrastructure to attract even more container traffic.”

With their proximity to Mexico and Latin American countries, ports like those found in Houston and New Orleans offer the ability to simply and effectively process goods on a global scale. Yet even with the rise of new ports, few can hold a candle to Los Angeles and Long Beach in terms of sheer volume, as they remain the top two ports in the U.S.

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