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Current port centric projects underway in the USA at the Port of Virginia, the Port of Savannah and the Port of Miami

Coastal Virginia is a region where local communities take the lead in promoting development near the port. Their efforts have paid off well: In 2011 alone, companies purchased more than 2.5 million square feet of industrial or warehouse space in the region known as Hampton Roads, near the Port of Virginia. One community that has seen a lot of action is the city of Suffolk. In 2011, Ace Hardware Corporation and the Navy Exchange Service Command announced plans to build DCs in Suffolk’s 920-acre CenterPoint Intermodal Center. Ace Hardware currently receives all its imported product through the Port of Seattle. But a distribution network study showed that adding a port on the East Coast could help the company enhance its operations, says Tim Duvall, supply chain director at Ace in Oak Brook, Ill. After considering several options, Ace chose the Port of Virginia with an eye toward the larger ships that will start sailing through the Panama Canal when the newly enlarged waterway opens. The company expects to start receiving product at the new facility around May 1, 2012, and start shipping from there to the RSCs around July 1, 2012. Before the Panama Canal reopens, the DC will receive shipments carried by smaller ships through the old Panama Canal.

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Another new arrival in the region near the Port of Virginia is Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, which agreed in October 2011 to buy a 330,000-square-foot building in the Shirley T. Holland Intermodal Park in Windsor. Green Mountain will use this facility to roast, grind, flavor, and package coffee for its Keurig Single-Cup Brewing System. The building that Green Mountain chose had been empty since Johnson Development Associates of Spartanburg, S.C., erected it on speculation in 2007.
Other companies that took space near the Port of Virginia in 2011 include the Belgian logistics firm Katoen Natie, which bought a former Ford assembly plant in Norfolk, and Communications Test Design Inc., which took a warehouse on the Indian River.
Although the ability to receive super post-Panamax vessels gives the Port of Virginia an advantage today in the economic development race, other ports are catching up fast.

Several economic development projects are underway at the Port of Miami, including the opening of the Port of Miami tunnel; construction of an on-dock rail terminal; the purchase of four super post-Panamax cranes; and the development of intermodal logistics centers about 50 to 70 miles from the port.
The Port of Miami has gained authorization and funding to deepen its harbor to the required 50 feet by 2014.
Also scheduled for that year is the opening of the Port of Miami Tunnel, providing a direct link between the port and Interstates 395 and 95. A partnership between the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), Miami-Dade County
which owns the port–the City of Miami, and private consortium MAT Concessionaire, the tunnel will allow trucks to move from the port to the interstate network without encountering a single traffic light, says Bill Johnson, director of the Port of Miami.A third big infrastructure project underway at Miami’s port is construction of an on-dock rail terminal. The $50 million in funding for this project includes a $23-million grant from the federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery II program, $11 million from the State ofFlorida, $11 million from the Florida East Coast Railway, and $5 million from the port.
Those projects–along with other initiatives such as the purchase of four new super post-Panamax cranes
are all aimed at attracting vessels that will use the new Panama Canal. But to thrive in a world of larger ships and heavier container traffic, Miami needs to do more than improve its own facilities, Johnson maintains. It also needs to make sure there are places to receive all those containers.
That’s why the Port of Miami recently signed memoranda of understand ing with three developers that want to develop intermodal logistics centers in the region near Lake Okeechobee, each of them about 50 to 70 miles from the port.
The three developers are Florida Inland Port, which plans to build a logistics hub in St. Lucie County; Florida Crystals Corporation, which plans to build the South Florida Intermodal Logistics Center in Palm Beach County; and U.S. Sugar Corporation, which is building in Hendry County. Each developer expects its facility to receive containers from various ports along Florida’s coasts.
Under the three agreements, the Port of Miami will share ideas with the developers and possibly engage in joint marketing. And it doesn’t mat- ter which of the projects succeeds, as long as Miami can rely on a direct rail connection to a major hub that houses multiple logistics facilities.
“I don’t want boxes resting on the Port of Miami,” Johnson says. “I want boxes moving.” And if they can’t move directly to their ultimate destinations, they need a stopping point away from the port.
“You need distribution centers and logistics centers
places that have land, mass, and warehousing in large quantities, and the equipment to handle those boxes efficiently and quickly,” he adds.
The DCs already in place near the Port of Miami can handle current traffic, says Kevin Lynskey, the port’s business initiatives manager. “But long term, we believe the state will need one or two major facilities to accommodate more trade,” he notes.
What’s true in Florida is also true for any region whose port is looking for more trade in the coming years. Whether they buy and develop land themselves, or collaborate with government and private sector partners in other ways, seaports need industrial properties nearby. And seaports play a crucial role in drawing occupants to those properties. 
Extracts courtesy of Inbound Logistics magazine.