Will County’s global logistics role explored at conference
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain email@example.com September 17, 2013 6:56PM
Ted Fishman, author of "China Inc.: How the Rise of the Next Superpower Challenges America and the World," chats Tuesday Sept. 17, 2013, with Jun Zhao, a Governors State University professor, during the Will County Center for Economic Development's Global Logistics Summit in Bolingbrook. | Cindy Wojdyla Cain~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 19, 2013 7:19PM
BOLINGBROOK — For years, the corporate mantra was “location, location, location,” when shopping around for a development site.
But those days are over, Adam Roth, executive vice president of NAI Hiffman said at Tuesday’s Global Logistics Summit held at the Bolingbrook Golf Club.
“Real estate really is transportation, transportation, transportation,” Roth said during a panel discussion on “Supply Chain Competitiveness — Maintaining the Edge.”
For instance, the average cost for rent is 4.3 percent of a corporate budget, while transportation amounts to 50.3 percent, Roth said.
The panel highlighted two Will County success stories: England-based AllSaints Spitalfields clothing company choose a Bolingbrook distribution center over Memphis, Tenn., and Diageo North America recently expanded its Plainfield location into its biggest bottling plant in North America.
The conference was a way for Will County to showcase its rail, road and waterway assets now that its two truck-train transfer intermodals have become the largest inland port in North America and hopes to someday have the third largest port overall.
“The dynamics of global trade continue to change, but they also continue to underscore the valuable asset we are certainly to the Midwest, but really to the nation’s global supply chain,” said John Grueling, president and CEO of the Will County Center for Economic Development, which sponsored the conference, the CED’s seventh.
In addition to importing goods through its intermodals, in recent years, local logistics officials have talked more about exporting. Will County already exports corn and soybeans around the world via barge and cargo container. But more is expected.
Gian St. Angelo, logistics director for Diageo North America, said his company is preparing to export more of its product from North America around the world, including Africa.
“There’s more Guinness consumed in Nigeria than in Ireland today,” he said.
As the middle class expands around the world, they will want higher quality spirits, he said.
That was a main theme of a keynote speech given by Ted Fishman, author of “China Inc.”
He said the middle class expansion in China will boost the sale of American products that are held to higher safety standards.
“In the past, the Chinese sector tended to prefer European manufactured goods,” he said. “But now America is seen as a place that has high safety standards. ... They want a mattress that doesn’t exude toxic fumes, for example.”
Illiana and airport
Also Tuesday, Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider talked about her new role as chairwoman of the country’s first National Freight Advisory Committee and the growing need for U.S. investment in its rail system.
She also touted the planned Illiana tollway, a $1 billion, 47-mile road that would stretch from Wilmington to near Lowell, Ind. The road has hits some speed bumps lately with environmental groups filing a federal lawsuit to stop it and the staff of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning criticizing the plan. But Schneider said she is optimistic that a majority of CMAP board members will vote to add the Illiana to a federal funding list on Oct. 9.
“It will be close, but we’re doing our homework and I think we can continue to build momentum,” she said.
She also updated the conference crowd on the proposed South Suburban Airport, which the state would like to see built near Peotone in eastern Will County. Greg Lindsay, author of “Aerotropolis: The way We’ll Live Next,” however, said the airport shouldn’t be built.
Lindsay, who was the day’s final speaker, examines in his book the trend of mega airports getting busier while so-called “reliever” airports around the country languish. He said airlines do not seem interested in moving to a Peotone area airport. Lindsay, who grew up in Kankakee County not far from the proposed SSA site, said it would be wiser to continue to expand O’Hare International Airport.
Greuling said proponents of the SSA know that airlines should be lined up first, before the airport is built. He also said it would probably handle mostly cargo at first.
“Our position has always been we will find a user,” he said. “We’re optimistic.”