Unless you’re in the business of producing, storing and/or transporting goods, you may not think much about logistics, but you should. Because without this vital industry sector, our world would be a far more treacherous and chaotic place. Think back to March 2020 … how did all those masks, ventilators and other essential medical supplies get to hospitals? And how, a year later, is widespread vaccine distribution against a deadly virus even possible?
The answer is logistics, of course.
Health crises aside, every company, regardless of size, scope or configuration, needs to get supplies in and products out, and no state does that better than Florida. With its extensive multimodal transportation systems and ready proximity to key national and international markets, Florida is well-equipped to facilitate an easy flow of raw materials and finished products between manufacturers and consumers.
The proof is in names you know. Amazon, Walmart, AutoZone, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, Chewy.com, Wayfair, Coca-Cola, Cheney Brothers, Sysco, UPS, FedEx and Trader Joe’s have all chosen to site at least one distribution center or warehouse in Florida. Not surprisingly, Amazon leads the pack in volume with multiple distribution and delivery facilities spread across six of Florida’s eight economic development regions, including a regional air hub opened at Lakeland Linder International Airport in July 2020.
The interconnected transportation systems serving these companies are also in growth mode. With fewer cars on the roads in 2020 due to the pandemic, crews were able to accelerate construction on two long-term projects to improve some 60 miles of highway that is the backbone of central Florida’s interstate system. Estimated completion: end of 2021 for both the 21-mile “I-4 Ultimate” and the 40-mile “I-4 Beyond the Ultimate” projects. Meanwhile, in Tampa Bay, a long-awaited extension of the heavily traveled Lee Roy Selmon Expressway through downtown Tampa is finally open, providing a non-stop trip from I-75 in east Tampa, across Tampa Bay via the Gandy Bridge and into Pinellas County.
At the same time, previously planned expansions at seaports and airports that were sidelined due to the pandemic have ramped up again, including construction on the Miami-to-Orlando leg of the fast passenger rail system Brightline. Estimated launch: fourth quarter of 2022. Brightline currently has operations and stations in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. In addition to Orlando, stations are planned for Aventura and Boca Raton and discussions are underway regarding further expansion to Disney and Tampa.
In cyberspace, Florida’s interconnectedness remains alive and well. The Network Access Point in Miami serves as a major switching station for internet traffic coming into and out of Latin America, while other high-speed networks, such as Florida Lambda Rail and LA Grid, facilitate R&D efforts. In addition, Florida has some of the fastest and most widely available wireless networks.