Logistics Clusters, Collaboration and the Supply Chain Talent Crisis


Have you noticed how logistics and distribution activities tend to be concentrated in certain regions? This is actually a key trend that is transforming global supply chains. Yossi Sheffi from the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics wrote a book about this movement in 2012, called Logistics Clusters. He describes a logistics cluster as “an agglomeration of logistics activities in one geographical location. It includes transportation carriers of all kinds — as well as warehousing, distribution, third-party logistics services, manufacturers’ operations, retailers and distributors who may have their own distribution centers.”

Logistics clusters can be powerful engines for economic growth. They are emerging across the country, and around the world. These clusters create traditional logistics jobs for distribution center associates, drivers and supply chain automation technicians. But they also lead to a surprising number of other jobs in supporting industries which would be hard to predict. For example, Zappos located a distribution center in the logistics cluster of Louisville, KY near the UPS Worldport air cargo hub. But who could have foreseen that this would lead to dozens of new jobs for videographers who make videos of their shoes? The great news for local economic developers is that logistics clusters are tied to that location, so the jobs they create are hard to relocate.

There’s more good news. Did you know that the U.S. Department of Labor projects that the number of jobs for logisticians will increase by over 20% across the U.S. by between 2012 and 2022? And in some regions of the country where supply chains play an especially important role the trend is even stronger. California, for example, projects an increase of over 30% for logistician jobs!

By Daniel Stanton, MHI Vice President of Education and Professional Development

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