How will an inland port affect Utah County business?

Date: Tuesday, May 29, 2018
Source: Daily Herald

Four local experts say there are challenges, but also great opportunities, with building an inland port for Utah.

Gov. Gary Herbert signed Senate Bill 234 into law in March, creating an Inland Port Authority with a board made up of 11 members. This group will oversee the planning for the inland port, which will be located just west or southwest of the Salt Lake City International Airport.

According to a study by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah, an inland port is a site located away from traditional land, air, and coastal borders but is near other transportation assets and freight lines.

 

Salt Lake City is uniquely positioned, the study continues, because “the Union Pacific’s Salt Lake City Intermodal Terminal provides significant infrastructure for a potential inland port. Located along the Union Pacific mainline, the terminal provides direct rail service to both the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Direct rail service is potentially available to the Port of Oakland as well. The terminal is located in close proximity to I-80, I-215, and S.R. 201, each of which is listed as one of Utah’s Primary Freight Network highways.”

Four panelists familiar with the inland port idea and its logistics answered questions about the port early Wednesday morning during the annual Spring Breakfast with Envision Utah. For Utah County businesses, an inland port could lower manufacturing, shipping and supply chain costs, even though the port will be in the northwest quadrant of Salt Lake City.

Matt Mahar, vice president of home services at Vivint Smart Home, said the port could significantly help Vivint’s business model. All of Vivint’s product is produced in Asia currently, but an inland port could open up local manufacturing opportunities.

“I know if we could manufacture stateside at an affordable rate it would be much more beneficial to us in shipping speed and quality control,” Mahar said at the breakfast event. “To have something local would allow much more integrated logistics and planning, and could drive costs down.”

Mahar said he believes the port would be even more important for larger companies who more heavily rely on shipping goods to and from the state. Once the inland port is up and running, it could optimize business growth.

 

“I imagine that’s what a lot of other companies here are looking at,” Mahar said.

Adam Wasserman, managing partner of GLDPartners and one of the panelists, explained that the port’s proximity to the airport is going to be increasingly important to local companies’ competitiveness on both a national and global scale. He foresees companies in the future making location decisions based on access to the port.

“Having this confluence of opportunity and connectivity right next to the largest airport recharging project, and one of the largest in the world right now is pretty interesting,” Wasserman said.

As plans for the port move forward, the panel expressed that it is vital to bring both the private and public sector to the table, in addition to members of the logistics industry and those with an interest in corporate recruitment.

“If we do this as our vision for global connectivity, then we have served future generations in a huge way. But we have to do it right,” said panelist Natalie Gochnour of the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.

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