North Central Regional Logistics Council Unveils First-ever Plan to Strengthen North Central Indiana’s Logistics Industry

(South Bend, Ind., Aug. 4, 2015) The Conexus Indiana North Central Regional Logistics Council (NCRLC) today released its regional logistics strategic plan that details long-term infrastructure, public policy and talent development priorities to grow the logistics industry and the economy in the 7-county region.*

NCRLC, created by Conexus Indiana in the spring of 2013, brought together 31 logistics executives and thought leaders from North Central Indiana into a partnership with regional economic groups and chambers of commerce to develop strategies, goals and tactics to maximize short- and long-term success for the logistics sector in the region.

“We titled this document Ensuring Connection to the World because the North Central region has a significant advantage with its central location, and with that comes opportunities to grow our economy and provide world-class freight movement,” said John T. Phair, president and CEO of Holladay Properties and chair of the NCRLC. “Ensuring Connection to the World focuses on our strengths and identifies our long-term infrastructure needs – the most important being the completion of US 31 so we can maximize freight movement north and south. We believe following this plan will increase the number of logistics businesses choosing to relocate or expand in our region.”

In developing Ensuring Connection to the World, council members identified 27 infrastructure projects, as well as public policy and workforce development opportunities.

The plan identifies road, rail, air and waterborne infrastructure projects at the regional and local levels, prioritizes those projects and outlines projected costs. The infrastructure projects, once implemented, will decrease transportation bottlenecks, increase direct rail service, increase use of regional air facilities for freight, and improve mode-to-mode connectivity.

Priority projects include the completion of the north and south bound lanes of US 31, converting US 30 to a 4-lane full access controlled freeway with interchanges at major intersections, transforming the Kingsbury Intermodal into a niche multimodal rail service yard for the distribution of cold storage commodities, completion of the Soo Locks to ease transportation of goods between Lake Superior and the steel mills and power plants that support businesses in North Central Indiana, connecting the toll road to US 30 via SR15 or CR 17 and ensuring construction of the Illiana Expressway giving better access freight access to Chicago.

“Having a detailed asset map of the region’s logistics resources, and a plan to expand and improve those assets is enormously beneficial,” said Jeff Rea, president and CEO of the St. Joseph County Chamber of Commerce. “With it we can target and increase funding, public policy and workforce development initiatives through public/private partnerships. But it’s not just for business. Our residents, too, will benefit from improved mobility and job opportunities.”

“We want to ensure we remain a leader in the nation in freight movement efficiency and productivity,” said Kyle Hannon, president & CEO of the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce. “Excellence in logistics will help grow our economy and create new opportunities.”

In addition to identifying infrastructure priorities, the Council tackled talent development and public policy opportunities to keep Indiana at the forefront of the global supply chain. The plan addresses the importance of ensuring federal, state and local governments do not regulate barriers to the safe, efficient and innovative movement of goods and resources through the region and, equally important, ensure adequate funding to support those infrastructure priorities.

The plan also calls for improved educational opportunities to meet the next generation of business needs for skilled workers in the regional logistics industry and increase the job prospects and upward mobility of those workers.

“While the Conexus Indiana HIRE Tech high-school curriculum is offered in six schools and there are nine businesses partnering with these schools to offer hands-on experience, there is room for growth,” said George Robertson, president of the Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation. “Responding to the shortages of warehouse/logistics maintenance technicians and 4-year degree supervisors is also recognized as an essential function of workforce development in the region.”

The NCRLC is one of six regional councils developed by the Conexus Indiana Logistics Council (CILC) at the request of the Indiana Department of Transportation, Indiana Economic Development Corporation, and the Ports of Indiana to identify regional and local logistics needs in each area of the state.

“Like those of the other regional logistics councils, Ensuring Connection to the World is the product of the hard work of volunteer logistics executives, local chambers of commerce, economic development groups and both public and private organizations that share our concern for the future of Indiana’s position as the ‘Crossroads of America,’” said David Holt, vice president of operations and business development at Conexus Indiana.

A summary of strategies, goals and tactics identified in Ensuring Connection to the World is attached, and the entire Plan can be downloaded at www.Conexusindiana.com.

About Conexus Indiana:

Conexus Indiana is the state’s advanced manufacturing and logistics initiative, dedicated to making Indiana a global leader. Conexus Indiana is focused on strategic priorities like workforce development, creating new industry partnerships and promoting Indiana’s advantages in manufacturing and logistics. Learn more at www.ConexusIndiana.com.

About the Conexus Indiana Logistics Council:

Conexus Indiana created the Conexus Indiana Logistics Council for executives in the industry to explore short- and long-term issues, opportunities and obstacles to growth in their businesses, and to develop strategies to ensure Indiana remains a logistics leader. The Council and its six regional councils are an unprecedented collaboration of logistics executives and thought leaders from throughout the state representing all sectors of the logistics user community.

*The Indiana counties within the North Central region are Cass, Elkhart, Fulton, Kosciusko, Marshall, Miami and St. Joseph.