Utah’s Inland Port Will Bring Commerce To Utah

In its most recent session, the Utah Legislature passed a bill designating an approximately 4,000-acre area just a few minutes from the Salt Lake City International Airport in the northwest quadrant as an inland port. Salt Lake City has already started work to bring power, internet and other infrastructure to the area, aptly named the SLC Port Global Logistics Center, with the hopes of attracting several distribution companies to the area. In addition, the new prison will be located there, and major distribution companies like Amazon and UPS have already set up shop nearby.

The inland port designation, combined with a currently-under-renovation international airport, is poised to create a new concentration of logistics and e-commerce businesses in the state. But with Utah becoming even more of a transportation hub, stakeholders must walk the line to ensure impacts on air quality, traffic, housing, and the environment are considered.

Infrastructure Designed To Scale

Lara Fritts, director of the department of economic development for Salt Lake City, says the city has been preparing for an inland port for a number of years. “The conversation really came to the front burner within the last couple of years, so the city has taken a number of steps to move forward with an inland port,” she says. “We have planned for infrastructure, rail connectivity, roads, sewer, and water. We have even started to recruit companies to the northwest quadrant. We have zoned the area primarily as M2, which is a light manufacturing district. That gives us great flexibility because companies can do manufacturing, logistics, and distribution, but we can also do retail, hotel, and restaurants.”

Ms. Fritts says the area is already a bustling zone of e-commerce and logistics—pointing to Amazon’s more than 800,000-square-foot facility and UPS’s one million-square-foot facility as examples—and with the inland port designation, that will just become more apparent. Derek Miller, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber and outgoing president and CEO of the World Trade Center Utah, agrees.

“Utah is a very geographically and strategically located state,” he says. “That’s why we’ve been known since our settlement as the crossroads of the West. It was true in pioneer times, and that was true with the joining of the transcontinental railroad, and it was true with the building of the north-south-east-west freeway system. It remains true today. What we’re talking about with an inland port is certainly a component to Utah becoming a global trade center.”

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Utah Business Sun, 08/26/2018 - 21:13