May 9, 2021

Business Florida 2021 - The Regions

Tampa Bay

Citrus • Hernando • Hillsborough • Manatee • Pasco • Pinellas • Polk • Sarasota

| 10/30/2020

Logistics and Distribution

ampa Bay excels at logistics and distribution because it has all the right assets: Florida’s largest seaport; a top-rated international airport; superior rail connections; and an interstate highway network that puts 34 million consumers within an 8-hour drive. Many of the most readily recognizable names in distribution — Amazon, Walmart, Wayfair, IKEA, Home Depot and Gordon Food Services — are already here, and more are on the way. Third-party logistics providers BlueGrace Logistics, Integrity Express Logistics, Quality Distribution and Total Quality Logistics chose to site facilities here.

So why Tampa Bay? Two words: superior connections …

By air: Three commercial airports serve this region. Tampa International is the largest, handling 22.5 million passengers and 220.9 million tons of cargo in 2019. TIA has made progress on several expansion projects, including the topping out at its SkyCenter One, the first commercial office building linked to the Tampa airport by train. Also providing air passenger and cargo service in Tampa Bay: Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, serving close to 2 million passengers in 2019, and St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport with 2.3 million passengers in 2019.

By sea: Port Tampa Bay is Florida’s largest port by physical size and cargo tonnage. In FY2019, 34.5 million tons of cargo passed through the port, including 105,663 TEUs of containerized cargo. During the same period, Port Tampa Bay welcomed 233 cruise ships and, for the second consecutive year, more than 1 million cruise passengers in a single year. On the southern edge of Tampa Bay, Port Manatee — the nearest U.S. deep-water seaport to the expanded Panama Canal — in FY 2019 handled a new all-time high of 10.1 million tons of cargo, and containerized cargo tons were up by a whopping 49.3%, at an all-time peak of 535,176.

By rail: Tampa Bay offers 500 miles of active railroad and siding tracks operated by Florida-based CSX, which maintains a major rail yard, intermodal terminal, TRANSFLO terminal and automotive distribution center in Tampa.

By road: Interstate systems I-4, I-75 and I-275 directly link Tampa Bay to Miami, Orlando, Jacksonville, Pensacola and all points in between and beyond. A truck ramp from Port Tampa Bay leads directly to and from I-4, which connects to I-75 less than 10 miles away.

A recent study by Colliers International described the I-4 Corridor linking Tampa and Orlando as one of the fastest growing and most dynamic industrial markets in the country. It is estimated that along this stretch of roadway, more than 7 million square feet of new industrial and logistics space are either under construction or in serious planning stages. Three of the biggest names in the distribution business are finding homes in Tampa Bay:

Home Depot, which already has committed to building two facilities here — an 800,000-sq.-ft. e-commerce distribution center in Plant City and a 105,000-sq.-ft. warehouse in Pinellas County for last-mile distribution — is making plans for a third, a 400,000-sq.-ft. warehouse in Gibsonton.

Ace Hardware Corporation, which has operated a Retail Support Center in Tampa since 1977, is looking to upsize at a new facility in nearby Plant City. Construction on the new 315,000-sq.-ft. RSC is expected to begin in October 2020 with a target completion date of 2021.

Amazon, on July 23, 2020, officially opened its newest regional air hub at Lakeland Linder International Airport with the arrival of its first flight from Sacramento. The Amazon hub, which also includes a 300,000-sq.-ft. warehouse, is Amazon Air’s largest facility in the Southeast. It will service Amazon’s larger-scale regional needs and eventually create up to 1,000 jobs.

Nearing completion elsewhere in Polk County is a 1-million-sq.-ft. warehouse in Auburndale, where hiring the more than 500 people to fill it has begun. Next on the list for Polk: a delivery station; the word on the street is that Amazon has leased the 700,000-sq.-ft. Lakeland Dragstrip Logistics Center. Fast forward to Pasco County, where Amazon plans a 110,866-sq.-ft. structure, most likely a last-mile fulfillment center. And last, but not least, there’s the Tampa region where Amazon has closed on two major transactions — the purchase of more than 80 acres in Temple Terrace and a warehouse lease in Seffner. Amazon’s 120,000-sq.-ft. distribution center north of I-75 near Venice is nearing completion.

Third-party logistics firms with ties to Tampa Bay are also growing:

• Integrity Express Logistics, based in Cincinnati, plans to add 50 or more employees to its current staff of 92 as it expands in Tampa. Integrity’s Tampa office opened in 2016 with a staff of 20.

• BlueGrace Logistics has acquired its crosstown rival Anthym Logistics, bringing its total number of U.S. locations to 15 and adding another 55 employees in the process. The merger, which took place in March 2020, is expected to build BlueGrace’s presence further in Tampa and Chicago and add new offices in Boca Raton and Birmingham, Ala.

KEY PLAYERS: Ace Hardware, Oak Brook, Ill.; Amazon, Seattle, Wa.; BlueGrace Logistics, Riverview; Home Depot, Atlanta, Ga.; Integrity Express Logistics, Cincinnati, Ohio

Tags: Tampa Bay, Business Florida

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