Issue link: http://businessnc.epubxp.com/i/246526
N.C. State PortS authority Port of Morehead City handles bulk materials such as scrap steel and, soon, wood pellets bound for electric utilities in Europe. Beverly Perdue to identify and meet transportation needs. "There's the perspective of private companies trying to get their products to market, and there's the state's perspective of trying to provide the infrastructure that enables private industry to do what it needs to do. The better the state understands private-sector supply chains, the better it can support those activities." Strengthening hard assets — highways, ports, airports and railroads — is key, but so is taming regulations, as the General Assembly did in 2013. North Carolina cemented its reputation as the Good Roads State in the 1920s, when it connected small farms and commodity markets. Today's economy includes connecting agribusinesses in the state with consumers in Europe, Africa and China. "We're 36 in a nice place for serving the world's food needs, and it would be benefcial to capitalize on that." About 200,000 Tar Heels work in transportation and logistics, according to estimates by Greensboro-based North Carolina Center for Global Logistics, a collaboration of Guilford Technical, Davidson County, Forsyth Technical and Randolph community colleges and the 12-county Piedmont Triad Partnership. The industry adds 7,000 to 9,000 jobs in the state each year. "Logistics includes a whole host of activities most people don't know about and don't care about," says Charles Edwards, the center's director. About two-thirds of the state's logistics jobs are in the Piedmont Crescent, which arches from Charlotte through Winston-Salem, No rt h C arol i Na E CoNo mi C DE v Elo p mE N t Gu iDE Greensboro and High Point to Durham and Raleigh. Most companies put logistics operations at or near their factories, and retailers build distribution centers close to big cities, where many of their customers live. Memphis, Tenn.-based FedEx Corp.'s 1 million-square-foot sorting hub at Piedmont Triad International Airport near Greensboro, for example, can handle up to 24,000 packages per hour. New York-based Ralph Lauren Corp. is more than doubling the size of its distribution center in High Point. It will encompass 800,000 square feet and add 900 jobs to the 1,400 the company already has there. The apparel and home-decor company also is building a 360,000-square-foot distribution center in Whitsett, between Greensboro and Burlington, that will employ up to 200.