Regional council aims to strengthen logistics sector

August 24th, 2013

News Coverage:

Regional council aims to strengthen logistics sector

Posted: Saturday, August 24, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 8:04 am, Sat Aug 24, 2013.

From Staff Reports

FORT WAYNE — The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, Regional Chamber of Northeast Indiana and Conexus Indiana, the state’s advanced manufacturing and logistics initiative, Thursday announced the formation of the Northeast Regional Logistics Council.

The logistics council is an industry-led initiative to identify and advance local projects and policies to strengthen the region’s logistics sector. It comprises more than 30 advanced manufacturing and logistics industry representatives from northeast Indiana.

Andy Brooks, president of Brooks Construction Co., board member of the Regional Chamber of Northeast Indiana, Vision 2020 Infrastructure Task Force chairman and a Conexus Indiana Logistics Council Infrastructure Task Force chair, will serve as chairman of the regional logistics council.

The council will address priority projects and public policy issues that affect a 13-county region including Adams, Allen, Blackford, DeKalb, Grant, Huntington, Jay, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley counties.

The council will develop a strategic plan to strengthen the movement of manufactured products through the region, the state and the world. In addition to serving as a guide for local projects, the plan will be integrated into the statewide logistics plan spearheaded by the Conexus Indiana Logistics Council.

Northeast Indiana serves as a strategic logistics hub for businesses distributing products to the Great Lakes/Midwest region. It ranks as one of the lowest-cost regions in the United States for serving national markets, ranking eighth in the country.

“Northeast Indiana has major logistics infrastructure assets, and our goal is to protect and grow those assets in order to continue to grow our logistics industry and our position as the ‘Crossroads of America,’” said David Holt, vice president of operations and business development for Conexus Indiana. “For the last three years, the Conexus Indiana Logistics Council has studied the key issues facing the industry and has recommended improvements including investing in our highways, optimizing our airport network, maintaining our locks and dams, all while reducing the tax and regulatory barriers to logistics companies.”

Several projects have been identified at the state level by the Conexus Indiana Logistics Council, including:

  • the Hoosier Heartland Highway, which involves replacing S.R. 25, a two-lane rural highway constructed in the 1930s, with a new four-lane, limited-access highway that will connect Lafayette to Fort Wayne, where it will link to the U.S. 24 Fort to Port highway;
  • a limited-access highway along U.S. 30 from Valparaiso to Fort Wayne to improve connectivity between Interstate 69 and I-65;
  • completion of I-69 to Evansville; and
  • ensuring freeway-like access for Marion.

“The northeast Indiana region is in an enviable position when it comes to logistics, being home to national and international distribution companies that realize the benefits of our region’s assets,” said Brooks. “As a business owner in this region, I know how important it is to leverage our existing position and continue to plan for future growth.”

“Interstate accessibility has been identified as one of the seven priorities of our Vision 2020 initiative. Improving our infrastructure and supporting the logistics industry cluster is vital to the growth of our economy and business investment in the region,” said John Sampson, president and CEO of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership. “Our partnership with the regional chamber and Conexus on this issue underscores the importance of the logistics council.”

Additional meetings and forums will be held throughout 2013 and early 2014, resulting in the development of a logistics strategic plan.