Michigan could lead in logistics

Posted on September 13, 2012

Michigan’s strategic position as a gateway to Canada and the rest of the U.S. could be exploited to make the state a key leader in the growing field of logistics, a study commissioned by the nonprofit group Business Leaders for Michigan reported today.

Doug Rothwell, president and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan, said the study “reaffirms that Michigan has numerous opportunities to grow its economy by exploiting its position as a global gateway and by investing in infrastructure that will improve product movement — especially with Canada, our No. 1 trade partner, but also Europe and Asia.”

Michigan’s proximity to Canada provides an advantage over Midwest competitors. “By increasing the capacity and reliability of transport in southeast Michigan, particularly by further developing the airport and building a new international border crossing, we can help protect this existing industry base,” he said.

Among its recommendations, the study concluded that Michigan should continue to enhance Detroit Metro Airport’s status as a major passenger and air cargo hub, with the Grand Rapids and Lansing airports serving as additional connections.

The study noted that metro Detroit already offers an array of transportation infrastructure, including Metro Airport, the Ambassador Bridge, the Detroit Windsor Tunnel, a railroad tunnel between Windsor and Detroit, and the Detroit Intermodal Freight Terminal in southwest Detroit. But all could be improved, and proposals to enhance the rail tunnel and to build a new bridge between Detroit and Windsor so far have not produced actual construction.

The study also noted what it called “mild concern” on the part of shippers and other firms over some limited availability of specialized equipment and modest concern about road conditions in Michigan and how the quality of roads could impact truck equipment.

The study was compiled by Global Logistics Development Partners, Global Innovation Partners and Greyhill Advisors and included reviewing Michigan’s logistics system and interviewing industry stakeholders, local policy makers, shippers, and the logistics industry.

The entire study will be posted at www.businessleadersformichigan.com/research-reports/ .

This latest study echoed some of the findings of earlier ones, including an assessment by the Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institution that recommended that Michigan build on its existing industrial base to expand its economy.

John Gallagher, Detroit Free Press