October 6, 2022

Business Florida 2022 - The Regions

Tampa Bay

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

| 11/8/2021

Logistics and Distribution

Tampa Bay excels at logistics and distribution because it has all the right assets: Florida’s largest seaport by size and tonnage; a top-rated international airport; superior rail connections; and an interstate highway network that puts 34 million consumers within an 8-hour drive. No wonder so many of the most readily recognizable names in distribution — Amazon, Walmart, Wayfair and IKEA — are already here, and more are on the way. If your business needs superior connections, Tampa Bay is the right place to be.

By air: Tampa International is the largest of the three commercial airports serving Tampa Bay. In 2020, TPA handled 10.2 million passengers, a 54.5% decrease from 2019 and its lowest annual total since 1993. Cargo fared better at 243.2 tons in 2020, compared to 220.9 the previous year. But while planes were grounded, construction continued at TIA’s 270,000-sq.-ft. SkyCenter One, the first commercial office building linked to the airport by train; first tenants were accepted in July 2021. St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport experienced its worst month ever in April 2020 with a passenger count of just 5,799; by July 2021, the count had risen to 262,681. Similarly, at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, where passenger traffic dipped by 95% in April 2020, August 2021 was a record-breaker at 2,034,535 passengers.

By sea: Port Tampa Bay, Florida’s largest port by physical size (5,000+ acres) and cargo tonnage, remains among the nation’s most diversified, handling all major cargo categories, including liquid and dry bulk, containers, commodities and automobiles. In FY2020, 32.9 million tons of cargo passed through the port, including 141,030 TEUs of containerized cargo, a 33% increase over the previous year despite slow-downs across the board elsewhere due to the pandemic. Cruise numbers were less encouraging, however. Port Tampa Bay welcomed only 112 cruise ships in 2020 compared to 233 in 2019, and at 507,920, just slightly more than half its usual number of cruise passengers. But there’s good news ahead. A new shipping service delivering Dole pineapples and bananas from Honduras and Guatemala to the U.S. has started passing through Port Tampa Bay weekly, and cruises are slowly but surely beginning to come back.

On the southern edge of Tampa Bay, at Port Manatee — the nearest U.S. deep-water seaport to the expanded Panama Canal — containerized cargo trade continues to swell at record pace. In FY2020, Port Manatee moved 9.3 million tons of cargo and an all-time high of 88,466 TEUs, representing a 54.6% increase over the preceding 12-month period when the port moved a then record 57,239 TEUs. Port officials continue to attribute the gains to robust growth by Port Manatee-based World Direct Shipping, which began cross-Gulf service with Mexico in 2014 and is adding a fourth port of call there, and Del Monte Fresh Produce, bringing Latin American fruit to Port Manatee for 40 years.

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.

Recent developments in this sector prove that companies in need of large spaces and easy connections are readily drawn to Tampa Bay:

Signode Industrial Group, a division of Crown Holdings, has opened a temporary office in Tampa as it begins the process of fully relocating its corporate headquarters from Glenview, Ill. by 2022. Signode offers transit packaging services, which include strapping and stapling services and automation for moving pallets in and out of storage positions in warehouses. With more than 80 manufacturing facilities across six continents, Signode employs 7,000+ worldwide. Approximately 100 Illinois workers will relocate to Florida; another 100 will be hired locally.

Power Design, a St. Petersburg-based design-build electrical contractor and systems integrator, is relocating its distribution and prefabrication operations from Atlanta to a warehouse facility in Manatee County.

Across the region, speculative projects promise a bright future for companies needing warehouse space, too. In Polk County, two projects with easy access to I-4 are ready for tenants: Logistix Hub at County Line with 404,040 square feet and CenterState Logistics Park East with 1.01 million square feet. And near Tampa International Airport in Hillsborough County, the 245,000-sq.-ft. TIA Logistics Center and the 125,400-sq.-ft. Airport Logistics Center anticipate ground breakings in 2021.

And last, but not least, there’s Amazon, which is on target to open a 633,000-sq.-ft. fulfillment center in Temple Terrace before Christmas 2021. Other Amazon facilities in the region that are completed or nearing completion include a 120,000-sq.-ft. fulfillment center in North Port (2020); a 110,825-sq.-ft. distribution center in Venice; and last-mile delivery stations in Lutz, Seffner and Gibsonton. And rumored, but not yet confirmed: a warehouse under construction near MacDill Air Force Base and a patch of Pinellas County land, which at 100,000 square feet each are just the right size to become Amazon last-mile delivery stations.

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

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