July 2017 | Commentary | EcoDev

How to Make Your Region a Logistics Hotspot

Tags: Site Selection, Logistics, Supply Chain

David Welsh is Chief Operating Officer, Sun Corridor, 520-243-1922

How does a region become a logistics hotspot? Take Southern Arizona, for example: The region's national economic impact has grown by $18.7 billion over the past decade, helping to revitalize the area, grow the population, and create thousands of jobs.

Southern Arizona, with a population of 1.6 million, is one of the fastest growing mega-regions in the United States. While many cities away from the coast are losing well-paying jobs, Tucson, Arizona, has attracted more than 6,000 new positions in the past year—working with companies doing business on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border to create a new logistics hotspot in the Southwest.

Southern Arizona's success can be attributed to its ability to market its supply chain strengths to large logistics companies. The area's solid workforce, superior infrastructure, and prime location have attracted big name distributors—including Target, HomeGoods, and Tractor Supply Company—in recent years.

Your region can become a logistics hotspot by following Southern Arizona's blueprint:

  • Develop your workforce. A common denominator to a successful logistics location is a skilled workforce. Because a large portion of the U.S. population is nearing retirement, companies now focus on expanding in regions with a youthful, skilled employee pool.

    To address this concern, Southern Arizona collaborates with Pima Community College and the University of Arizona to train thousands of students in skill sets that will be valuable to businesses in the region. This helps economic development officials confidently tell companies that an educated workforce will be there to meet their demands as they grow.

  • Leverage location. Tucson's ability to reach large markets has been pivotal to its success as an appealing logistics location. Companies want to place distribution centers strategically to help save time and money when reaching its customers. A logistics hotspot needs access to large metropolitan regions to attract big suppliers and large distribution centers.

    "Distribution from Tucson works extremely well," says Shane Gesbeck, plant manager for Arizona Canning Company. "Our facility is right off Interstate 10, giving us easy access to Southern California markets to the west and to markets in Texas to the east."

    The state of Arizona's strong business, social, and political ties with Mexico has given the region an edge when it comes to attracting suppliers, providing companies access to the Mexico market. This creates new business opportunities and a larger reach for supply chains as trade between the United States and Mexico becomes more balanced in terms of imports and exports.

  • Invest in infrastructure. Logistics and transportation companies need a functioning infrastructure system to transport people and products around the world. One integral factor in turning Southern Arizona into a logistics hotspot is the privately owned intermodal rail facility called the Port of Tucson. The facility offers a wide variety of rail-oriented transportation options in and around the Southwest region.

    The Tucson location also provides easy access to deep-water ports on the West Coast for companies looking to reach global shipping destinations.

  • Spotlight assets. The Southern Arizona region has been successful by focusing on the assets it brings to the marketplace. From location to workforce and infrastructure, the region has been able to leverage its logistics strengths.

These factors and more played a part in turning Southern Arizona into a logistics hotspot. Developing and leveraging these factors could help any region become attractive to large distributors.


Sun Corridor coordinates economic development activities and programs within Southern Arizona under one umbrella and facilitates primary job and investment growth in the region.






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