Tuesday, March 22nd, 2022The Georgia Center of Innovation, a strategic arm of the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD), hosted hundreds of attendees at the March 16th Georgia Logistics Summit, where experts offered insights on the digitalization of the logistics industry and on harnessing needed talent. Created in 2009 to bring together all aspects of the logistics industry, the Georgia Logistics Summit has grown to become one of the Southeast’s most important logistics and supply chain-centered events.
The total sales (output) impact of Georgia’s logistics industries jumped to $83.4 billion in 2021, equaling approximately 7% of the state’s total sales, an increase from $60.7 billion (or 6%) in 2018. Georgia also outpaced the nation in warehousing services growth at 92.8% growth since 2018. In 2018, one out of every 14 Georgia jobs owed its existence to logistics; today, that number has grown to one in every nine Georgia jobs.
“Thanks to long-term investments, Georgia’s logistics networks have become a gateway to the entire United States. In many cases, one of the first questions companies ask about is connectivity. The connectivity and speed-to-market service Georgia provides has led to record-breaking economic investment and trade, year after year – even during a global pandemic,” said Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson. “We were proud to host a sold-out program of hundreds of industry practitioners from business, government, and education, who gathered in Macon to discuss best practices, learn from the experts, and determine new and innovative ways to continue to adapt and position Georgia and their businesses for success in a rapidly changing world.”
Two featured panels highlighted the Summit: “Inside the Mind – Awakening Your Talent Search,” and a keynote panel, “A Vision for Supply Chain Digitalization in 2030.” Panelists, business leaders from Amazon, RaceTrac, Blue Bird Corporation, and Accenture shared their experience on how technology is shaping logistics and fulfilment operations and the benefits and risks for companies and regions. The role of data and analytics in supply chain transformation was explored, with information about the ways companies are approaching the changes needed to get their supply chains future-proof.
In working with increased digitalization, panelists reminded guests that digitalization offers tools, but logistics remains a “people business.” Redundancy of operations as part of the planning process was stressed, as this aspect of connectivity came into clear focus as a key need for supply chain resiliency as the COVID-19 pandemic continued. Panelists noted that digitalization is being increasingly utilized for data harvesting and demand signaling, and companies are focusing more on vertical integration through leading-edge technology and automation to streamline logistics sequences through the supply chain. While it was noted that 50% of existing repetitive tasks can be automated through existing technology, it was also noted that companies need to take opportunities to better leverage the creativity, decision making, problem-solving, and leadership skills that people bring to the organization.
A representative from Amazon also focused on the speed of delivery and using resources responsibly. Sean Holloway, General Manager, Sav 3, at Amazon in Macon, highlighted indications such as their electric delivery van fleet order with American startup Rivian to accommodate increasing demand for their “last mile” deliveries. “You’re going to see companies more focused on being good stewards… and green technology,” moving into the future, said Holloway.
This year’s Summit also featured Macon Mayor Lester Miller and Irving Consumer Products, who highlighted the host city of Macon and the factors that have made it a prime community for logistics success.
Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) Planning Director Jannine Miller provided updates on strategic investments to maintain and improve Georgia’s top-ranked interstate highway system and the state’s roads and bridges. She provided a briefing on GDOT’s strategic investments in local projects throughout the state to help trucks move more efficiently throughout the community and roadways, with less disturbance in addition to providing updates on long-term projects, such as the I-75/I-16 Interchange in Macon.
“Digitalization continues to change how business is done and life is experienced. This is why the Center of Innovation and our logistics team fill a critical need for Georgia businesses,” said Center of Innovation Executive Director David Nuckolls. “Through events like our annual Georgia Logistics Summit we continue to showcase industry best practices and bring the industry together to make Georgia’s logistics industry more competitive.”
Educating the needed workforce was the focus of the event’s first panel, with representatives from secondary and higher education, along with the Technical College System of Georgia and taking a proactive approach to aligning education with industry needs was a major focus. In Georgia, new career pathways in industry sectors including warehousing and distribution are preparing students for direct entry into the industry upon graduation, and in some cases while still in school. Additionally, the availability and skill of Georgia’s large population of veterans was discussed, including the opportunities available through the Georgia Veterans Education Career Resource, or VECTR Center. The VECTR Center provides unique, accelerated programs in high demand and strategic industries tailored to abbreviate the process of receiving post-secondary certificates and degrees by recognizing the extensive training veterans receive during their military service. Panelists also focused on the importance of developing students’ core skills, creating future leaders, and developing partnerships with local schools and local industrial and economic development authorities, fostering conversations between industry and educators as key to results.
Home to 85% of third-party logistics companies, Georgia is ranked No. 1 for infrastructure and access to global markets by Area Development. The state is also home to the busiest and most efficient airport in the world, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, and the fastest-growing seaport in the U.S. at the Port of Savannah. In addition, Georgia offers a robust rail and highway infrastructure, with more rail miles than any other state in the Southeast at 5,000 miles of rail, and 1,200 miles of interstate highways, including I-75, I-85, I-95, and I-20, and 20,000 miles of federal and state highways. Many of the world’s leading logistics companies have operations or headquarters in Georgia including Amazon, The Coca-Cola Company, Delta Air Lines, The Home Depot, Norfolk Southern, and UPS.
For additional information on the 2022 Georgia Logistics Summit and to stay up-to-date on next year’s plans, visitwww.galogisticssummit.com.
Original article courtesy of Metro Atlanta CEO, published March 21, 2022.