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Advancing the Chicago region's supply chain

By Jim Blackmon, President, Carry Transit

Last week I had the opportunity to discuss metropolitan Chicago’s
logistics industry with seven County Board chairs and the Deputy Mayor
of the City of Chicago.  The group convened to consider how counties and
the city can work together with the private sector to promote the
region’s economic growth.

I shared the usual facts – transportation and logistics are a $14
billion industry at the heart of Chicago’s economy, and while we have
opportunities we have challenges that include being the third most
congested region in the nation.  Most important, we need to pay
attention to this industry if we are going to keep our regional
competitive advantage.

This was a group that was looking for action, and I was proud to tell
them about Supply Chain Innovation Network of Chicago (SINC).  Like the
business leaders from trucking, rail, supply chain and manufacturing
that have come together to form SINC, these elected officials want to
know what they can accomplish.  Here are a few of the suggestions I

    • We need to rationalize our truck permitting system.  If
      you are a trucker with a oversize load and you want to get it from Will
      County to McHenry County, you may have to pass though a dozen
      communities and apply for a half dozen special permits. Counties are in a
      great position to work with municipalities and move us toward a
      one-stop-shop for permitting.  We should also consider high weight
      payload zones – we’re seeing great results in places like the Ports of
      Los Angeles and Stockton California.
    • The region should promote off peak delivery.  By
      encouraging delivery during off-hours, we would reduce costs and
      congestion, improve air quality, and help the economy.  New York is
      doing it, and proving that the savings to the metropolitan area and
      businesses are huge.
    • Virtually all the segments of this industry are
      crying for better trained employees.  We need a serious, concerted
      effort to build our workforce, expanding on programs like Olive Harvey
      College’s transportation, distribution and logistics specialty, all the
      way up to getting the top engineers coming out of places like U of I,
      Northwestern and IIT to focus on our industry.

With SINC’s private sector leadership working with these elected
officials I’m optimistic that we can help move some of these agenda
items forward sooner rather than later.   You can help by joining SINC
and helping to move these and other critical agenda items forward.  The
Chicago region depends on it – and so do our businesses.

Originally posted Jan 29, 2014

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