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The port of Los Angeles has a plan to attract manufacturers and distribution companies to the region in a bid to boost cargo flows.
It involves turning the nearby Castle Commerce Center and Castle Airport into a hub for manufacturers and providing the port with a Central Californian focal point for goods movement.
Merced County has signed an agreement with the port to develop a joint business plan, work on an exporter outreach initiative in the Central Valley and share business intelligence.
The Central Valley Castle site needs investment for a range of manufacturing and distribution, with a particular focus on automotive, industrial machinery, specialty chemicals, commercial space systems, medical products and supplies and food processing.
Castle and the port both have direct access to the BNSF railway and a freeway.
Adam Wasserman, managing partner at GLD Partners, which is developing the project, said: “We think the market is sizable and mostly untapped, and this project creates tremendous value for both inbound shippers and manufacturing supply chains that want or need to be in California.
“We’ve been careful in our planning and development to assure two-way cargo movement, which will include inbound distribution and outbound manufactured products export.
“With over eight million square feet of development and over $3bn of investment, we see substantial cargo movement. We intend to maximise the use of rail to both domestic supply chain points and seaports.”
The project has been complicated by the number of stakeholders who need to be involved, including local government, infrastructure investors, rail, the port and the state.
“The vision of the port of Los Angeles is extremely important,” added Mr Wasserman. “In our view it is redefining the role of seaports in collaborations to generate new demand. Similarly, we have a quite exceptional local government that wants to be an active business partner – this is very unusual.
“The idea of a major port acting as a partner in a manufacturing/logistics project of scale is not typical. There are strong distribution park investments near to several of these ports, but what we’re talking about aspires to be more than that, in that we see outbound exports for finished goods and inbound supply chains supporting these manufacturing hubs are quite important.”
He said the project has already generated interest from forwarders and shippers, especially in the agribusiness, automotive manufacturing, medical products and industrial machinery sectors.
“We’ve also had discussions with 3PLs that have said that, as the development comes on line, they would see it as a strategic asset for supporting clients and winning new business. This project opens up a new product offer that had never existed before for the west coast or California market.”