Transportation Infrastructure Keeps Akron's Goods Moving
Within the lower 48 states, the geographic center of the United States is in a field northwest of Topeka, Kan. Toss in Alaska and Hawaii, and the center shifts north, off a dirt road near Butte, S.D.
By other measures, Greater Akron is in the center of the action.
More than 40 major U.S. markets that contain 55 percent of U.S. manufacturing plants, 57 percent of the population and 60 percent of its buying power are within 500 miles, according to the Greater Akron Chamber.
Half of the Fortune 500 companies based in Ohio are in the Cleveland-Akron corridor and more than 150 Fortune 500 companies have facilities in Greater Akron.
Three major airports, rail service and a state-of-the-art, 28-acre truck-rail facility about 30 miles from Akron provide valuable distribution resources.
Low-cost water transportation systems provide access to Gulf ports and Latin America, completing a system that is efficient and cost effective.
With the country’s fourth-largest interstate system, Greater Akron is a distribution hub. It is home to more than 100 freight carriers, including Yellow Transportation, which employs more than 1,000 people in Richfield.
FedEx has three operations in the area: FedEx Custom Critical, FedEx Truckload Brokerage and a large call center for FedEx Freight Inc.
Combined, the operations employ more than 700 people, says Ryan Henary, manager of marketing for FedEx Custom Critical.
“Northeast Ohio is a good place to run a customer service center,” Henary says, citing a solid employment base. As for shipping, he says, “We are within shouting distance of Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago and even New York.”
Several sites in Summit, Medina and Portage counties are affiliated with a designated Foreign Trade Zone, including Akron-Canton Airport and several industrial parks and distribution facilities. FTZ status allows goods to be brought in duty and tax free until they leave the zone or are remanufactured or assembled into another product.
The Northeast Ohio Trade and Economic Consortium administers Foreign Trade Zone 181 and also formed the Northeast Ohio Logistics Network, an advocacy group to help create a unified regional freight system.
The network includes about 140 shippers, carriers, logistics providers, and economic development representatives. Go to www.neotec.org/logistics.htm for more.