By Brendan Dugan, GLD Partners Ports and Terminals Practice Leader
At a time when the global logistics and transport industry is undergoing a period of rapid change, from legislative developments to new technologies and innovators, it is imperative that we all come together to collaborate and find new ways of working together.
This important concept has been very much embraced by The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA), and I was very pleased to have had the chance to bring the voice of another mode to what has traditionally been an air cargo-focused forum.
I was pleased to see that the panel I was chairing, entitled “Are inland ports in North America Overhyped or are they the next big thing?”, certainly gauged a lot of interest from attendees of the recent Forum in Toronto, Canada.
The seminar was a unique opportunity to connect with the entire supply chain community and discuss the realities of inland logistics in the United States and Canada.
Expert panellists representing the rail, investor/developer, logistics terminal operator and seaport perspective provided their insights into the realities of inland logistics assets and the variation between different port-inland logistics propositions including the St Lawrence Seaway, the US Southeast, California and the Canadian West Coast.
Michael Murphy, Chief Development Officer of Centerpoint Properties talked about how Centerpoint’s focus has shifted to assets that are in larger markets and with seaport connectivity.
Mark Hendrickson, Department Director of Commerce, Aviation and Economic Development of Merced County, Ca, gave insights into GLDPartners’ P3 project with Merced County to create a 2000-acre quadrimodal inland port in the geographic center of California with direct long-haul rail connectivity and with the Port of Los Angeles as a partner.
The project is slated to receive USD eight million of development and will include a self-contained rail district and a global automotive production and testing complex for autonomous vehicles.
The panel discussed how the project could become a lightning rod to evolve West Coast logistics with an integrated rail/truck proposition for the heavy north-south cargo routes in California.
New opportunities and challenges facing inland and sea ports were also part of the debate and Michael Inman, head of business development at Port of Prince Rupert, discussed the Port of Prince Rupert’s expansion and plans for new infrastructure and expanded cargo capacity.
Jonathan Lamb, President at Lake Superior Warehousing of Duluth Cargo Connect explained the creative public-private business relationship between his company and the Port of Duluth and the potential of the Great Lakes and St Lawrence Seaway system for bulk and breakbulk cargo, and to a lesser extent for specialized containerized cargo services.
Finally, Dan Bresolin, Assistant Vice President of International Intermodal CN, described the evolution and realities of intermodal rail and how key sites could play into shorter transit distances and smaller hubs.
In the end, the panel agreed that though there is clearly some over-excitement about inland ports in North America but they concluded that there are definitely opportunities to develop integrated logistics and production hubs at key locations in North America.
The ACF 2018 seminar and panel generated valuable in-depth analysis into the future direction of inland ports in North America and we are looking forward to working with TIACA in future events.
GLDPartners is an international investment and advisory firm that specializes in revenue and infrastructure development projects at and around high-opportunity airports, seaports and strategic trade and logistics hubs. The firm also supports global manufacturers and distribution operations with network design strategy and facility location analytics. GLDPartners’ clients and market perspective is global and the firm is headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, with offices in New York, Washington DC, Wisconsin and in the UK.