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Memphis, TN, which bills itself as America’s Aerotropolis™, repeats as the first-place finisher in the Top Logistics/Distribution/Shipping Hubs category in Business Facilities’ 2011 Metro Rankings.
“Memphis has an unsurpassed combination of air, rail, land and water shipping possibilities,” said Business Facilities Editor-in-Chief Jack Rogers. “When it absolutely, positively has to get there, it usually goes through Memphis.”
Memphis is generally considered North America’s premiere, perhaps its only, aerotropolis. The world headquarters of FedEx, Memphis International Airport has the distinction of being the busiest cargo airport in the world and also a major passenger airline hub. The airport pumps more than $28 billion into the region’s economy, and airport-related companies are responsible for 220,000 jobs, or one in every three in Memphis.
While the airport is the heart of the aerotropolis, it is just one part of the robust transportation system that is crucial to Memphis’ success. Equally vital to the city’s strength as a logistics hub are its superior road and rail networks and its port on the Mississippi River. All play integral roles in the economy of a city that is forecasted to see increased activity in both freight and passenger traffic in the years ahead.
Memphis has been nurturing its assets and preparing for an even brighter future. The airport itself has been modernized and expanded over the past 15 years with nearly $1 billion in improvements. One recent accomplishment was a land exchange that saw the Tennessee Air National Guard’s base moved from a 103-acre airport site that was surrounded by FedEx to another part of the air field where it built a state-of-the-art base. Years in the making, the exchange allowed FedEx to accomplish a critical expansion onto the former base.
Memphis’ five Class I railroads have in recent years invested more than $500 million in new or expanded rail systems, which already bring more than 200 trains through Memphis each day.
The city’s port will also get busier as river traffic increases with the planned expansion of the Panama Canal, so more rail connections to the water are in the works. The highway network is also growing. Memphis is located at the intersection of interstates 40 and 55, which both cross the Mississippi River, and the city will be a central location on I-69, nicknamed the NAFTA Superhighway since it will run from Mexico to Canada. Also, the construction of I-22 from Memphis to Birmingham is nearly complete, providing yet another direct connection to major East Coast markets. Meanwhile, plans call for the city to gain a third bridge across the Mississippi, accommodating road and rail.
Here are the top 10 finishers in our logistics/shipping category:
2011 METRO RANKING: TOP LOGISTICS/DISTRIBUTION/SHIPPING HUBS
1. MEMPHIS, TN
2. CHICAGO, IL
3. HOUSTON, TX
4. LOS ANGELES, CA
5. NEW ORLEANS, LA
6. PORT AUTHORITY OF NY/NJ
7. PHILADELPHIA, PA
8. MOBILE, AL
9. CHARLESTON, SC
10. SAVANNAH, GA