Distribution and logistics are critical components of ensuring that your company’s products get where they need to go in an efficient and effective manner. Distribution centers have always been in or near centralized population centers, as those are the areas that have the infrastructure and populations to support robust logistical operations. In addition, cities that have access to large airports and seaports, as well as coastal cities in general, tend to be ideal places for distribution centers.
The following is a list of ten of the best and most popular cities for distribution centers in the United States.
1. Los Angeles/Long Beach, California
The Los Angeles/Long Beach area has the dual benefit of being the second largest metropolitan area in the United States, as well as strategically placed to import and export to the rest of the Pacific Rim.
2. Riverside/San Bernardino, CaliforniaRiverside/San Bernardino is an area that is about 60 miles from Los Angeles. It is a large metropolitan area in its own right, with each county containing a population over 2 million each. This area benefits from many of the same infrastructure advantages of the Los Angeles/Long Beach area while having significantly less congestion and lower property values (making it less expensive to house large distribution centers there).
3. Denver/Boulder, ColoradoAlthough the Denver/Boulder area is not close to any coasts, Denver International Airport is a major transportation hub, and the metro area supports a population over 2.6 million. In addition, Denver is located at what amounts to a crossroads between many of the major regions of the United States, including California, the Pacific Northwest, Texas, and the Midwest.
4. Chicago, IllinoisIn addition to being the third largest city in the United States, Chicago has long served as a commercial hub for the country, spanning back as far as the era of Westward Expansion. Chicago also has a large airport, access to numerous interstates and railroads, and water access to the Great Lakes.
5. Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas
Dallas one of the major commercial hubs of Texas, and provides easy access to the Western states, the Southern states, and Houston (which itself has access to the Gulf of Mexico).
6. Orlando, FloridaOrlando is a relatively inexpensive (compared to the other cities on this list at least) hub that provides distribution centers with easy access to the Atlantic and the Caribbean.
7. Tampa/St. Petersburg, FloridaLike Orlando, Tampa/St. Petersburg offers access to the Caribbean and the Atlantic, while also having the benefit of being more closely connected with the Southern States.
8. Louisville, KentuckyLouisville is an increasingly popular place for distribution centers, thanks to their relatively inexpensive real estate, robust infrastructure, and strategic location between the Northeast and the South.
9. Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia's industrial economy is exploding, with demand for big-box construction exceeding supply in the short term by a significant margin, and 7.6 million square feet currently under construction. As Philadelphia grows to accommodate this economic expansion, it will benefit even more from its location in the heart of the Northeast.
10. Indianapolis, IndianaIndianapolis has the triple benefit of being in close proximity to the commercial hub of Chicago, being a "Right to Work" state, and having a robust railway system. These favorable economic factors are showing themselves in the fact that Indianapolis has more construction than any other "secondary" market - with 3.2 million square feet under construction.
To Sum It All Up
If you're looking to maximize efficiency in your distribution centers, you need to factor in more than just the location. After all, a poorly organized DC in one of these major cities will still struggle to stay lean and excel in quality work.
Learn the key areas to optimize your DC in our eBook below, The ABCs of DCs: A Best Practices Overview. Written by the supply chain management faculty at the University of Tennessee, it unveils the game-changes that can bring your distribution centers into the modern world without skipping a beat.