Shuffle Off To Buffalo

Local agencies are partnering with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to create a new inland port to be used for international container traffic.


VITAL STATS

Bi--national location puts the region in the center of North America’s business community.

Population: 2 million

Land Area: 1,512 square miles

Border Patrol: An international commerce center, accommodating 38 percent of the total trade conducted between the U.S. and Canada.

Telecommunications: Buffalo is one of the most wired cities in the U.S.

Got 20 Minutes? Buffalo is called the "20 minute city" because most points of interest are 20 minutes apart.

Some say the Buffalo, NY, region is in an enviable location. Within an eight--hour drive, you can reach markets catering to 55 percent of the U.S. population and 62 percent of the Canadian population.

“Just to give you an idea of the numbers, the Buffalo--Niagara Gateway between Buffalo and Canada is the second--busiest gateway in the country (Detroit--Windsor being first),” says John Cappellino, director of development for the Erie County Industrial Development Agency.

The Buffalo region has long played a pivotal role in food manufacturing and distribution––all the way back to the grain industry in the 1800s, when Buffalo was one of the country’s largest grain--milling communities. In fact, grain producers today still use barge to transport the commodity. More than 5,200 food companies operate in the Buffalo--Niagara region.

Cappellino is enthusiastic about the benefits for food logistics and distribution operations in the region over the next two decades. "This is an excellent location for serving markets in southern Ontario, New York State, northern Pennsylvania and New England," he says.

Rail and highway accessibility is a top benefit attracting companies considering a food manufacturing or processing operation in the area. In fact, Buffalo’s history as the second--largest rail center in the country at one time means the region supports an excellent rail infrastructure for today’s companies. There’s the CSX, running east--west from the East Coast to Chicago; the Norfolk Southern with major north--south access; and the Canadian National. "We are only one of two points of entry into the North­east for the Canadian National," Cappellino says.

A number of food facilities in the region are active users of rail and rail--to--truck intermodal. The highway infrastructure includes east--west I--90, a connecting spur to I--95, and U.S. 219. On the Canadian side of the region, the QEW runs right into the Hamilton and Toronto markets.

One of the region’s aggressive projects involves a partnership with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. "It’s all about how to package the region as a logistics center and create an inland port in the Buffalo area," explains Cappellino, adding the partnership also includes the Buffalo--Niagara Enterprise and the CSX Railroad.

The new inland port would be used for international container traffic since the Port of New York and New Jersey has just about capped out on dealing with the high volumes of traffic there. The idea would be for international shipments of containers to go right onto a train and arrive in Buffalo as a unit train of up to 200 container cars.

"The CSX is currently building a facility here and they would offload those containers onto cars or local warehouses where they would undergo value--added manufacturing or be stored for distribution at a later time," Cappellino says.

This plan has several advantages. Moving out of New York is a lot quicker with rail than by truck and economies of scale are on the side of moving a train of 200 container cars vs. 200 trucks. "We are also working on getting the port of entry from customs to be considered Buffalo rather than New York so that the containers could clear customs right here in Buffalo," continues Cappellino. "We already have the infrastructure in place to handle these functions with the international freight forwarders and brokers who are already here because of the Canadian border activities." The facility should be ready to operate by late 2005 or early 2006.

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