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VOL. 126 | NO. 26 | Tuesday, February 8, 2011

We’re in Good Company


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Memphis often gets a bad rap. So many people want to focus on negatives, and that simply breeds more negativity. From my perspective, the Memphis market is a uniquely great place to live and do business. Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks so. FedEx, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, AutoZone, International Paper, Conwood, Smuckers, Asics, Nucor and Electrolux – all are major corporations either headquartered here or choosing to have major manufacturing or distribution centers here.

While the low cost of living, unmatched musical heritage, and the best barbecue in the world are all reasons to live here, there are a number of serious economic reasons that this is one of the best markets in the country in which to locate a manufacturing or distribution center:

  • Memphis is home to the world’s second-busiest air cargo airport.
  • The market is crossed by three major interstates, including Interstate 40, the busiest trucking corridor in the U.S.
  • We are the third-largest rail center in the U.S – served by five Class I railroads: BNSF, CSX, Union Pacific, Norfolk Southern and Canadian National.
  • Our location on the Mississippi River provides us with the fourth-largest inland port in the U.S.
  • At 11.6 percent, we have the highest percentage of employees in transportation, warehousing and utilities of any of the top 100 cities.
  • We have approximately 200 million square feet of industrial space available in the market. To put that in perspective, Chicago, the largest industrial market in the country, has a population of almost 7.5 times that of the Memphis metro area, but only about 5.5 times the warehouse space.
  • Industrial building size in our market, on average, is larger than in other major markets. That means we offer more large space options for major distribution centers looking to locate in one of the most geographically desirable markets in the country.
  • Memphis has the lowest quoted rental rates for industrial space of any major market.

As business people, I’m sure we could all quote a few of the above statistics. Most of them can be found on our Chamber of Commerce website. While they are impressive individually, taken as a whole, they make an unbeatable financial argument for doing business here. Understanding, believing and advocating the value our market offers current and prospective businesses make my job as an industrial real estate broker rewarding. The story can never be told enough. It should be told from every breakfast forum, speaker series, convention breakout session, and on and on and on.

We can choose to find and perpetuate the negatives about our market or we can choose to identify and promote what makes this a great place to live and work. I choose to live in Memphis for several reasons that have nothing to do with trucks, trains or airports. It just so happens that the trucks, trains and airports are the reason I have a job in my hometown.

Andy Cates is vice president of brokerage services for Colliers International.

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