Top cities for global trade
Population: 198,645 | Unemployment: 2.8 percent | Key Infrastructure: BNSF Railway Complex
Besides a busy freight train complex—BNSF alone serves more than 100 trains a day—and the Rick Husband International Airport, perhaps the most critical aspect of the local commercial landscape is Amarillo’s abundance of lenders. From traditional institutions to economic development organizations offering micro-loans, there are multiple options for borrowers, some with less than A-plus credit. The Amarillo Economic Development Corp. (AEDC) is well-known for its aggressive incentive packages to existing and prospective employers and is credited with luring Bell Helicopter Textron’s development of the V-22 Osprey to town.
BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA
Population: 228,590 | Unemployment: 5.2 percent | Key Infrastructure: Port of Baton Rouge
Already home to LSU’s Supermike computer, once ranked as the No. 1 computer cluster in the world and still one of the globe’s top 500 computing sites, Baton Rouge recently became one of 23 Louisiana communities chosen by AT&T to receive its AT&T Business Fiber that allows companies to download at speeds up to 1 gigabit per second. The Port of Baton Rouge is the ninth largest port in the U.S. in terms of tonnage shipped and is the farthest upstream Mississippi River port capable of handling Panamax ships.
CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS
Population: 324,074 | Unemployment: 5.3 percent | Key Infrastructure: Port of Corpus Christi
The Port of Corpus Christi is the eighth busiest in terms of cargo volume and yet seems destined to get a good deal busier. Port officials are working on a $1 billion project to demolish the Corpus Christi Harbor Bridge and replace it with one that has a clearance of 205 feet. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be widening the port’s channel to 530 feet and deepening it to 52 feet, giving mid-size Aframax class tankers access to their docks.
Population: 1,300,092 | Unemployment: 3.5 percent | Key Infrastructure: Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
With the third largest concentration of Fortune 500 companies (nine) in the nation, great infrastructure is a given in Dallas. Served by a busy international airport and crisscrossed by teeming Interstates, the city is moving to develop that next step in infrastructure: ultra-high speed broadband. The city announced that parts of Dallas will soon have among the nation’s fastest Internet connections—can we interest you in downloading 25 songs in a second? Administered through AT&T, the broadband will have speeds of at least 1 gigabit per second and figures to be available citywide sooner than later.
FORT SMITH, ARKANSAS
Population: 88,194 | Unemployment: 4.6 percent | Key Infrastructure: Interstates 40, 49 and 540
Fort Smith is a transportation hub virtually surrounded by all ways of moving products and people. Not only are there multiple Interstates and state highways, but also the city is located on the Arkansas River, which is home to the Port of Fort Smith. Those resources, along with the fact it’s served by the Kansas City Southern Railway, has made Fort Smith a regional manufacturing center with major plants operated by Rheem, Trane, Georgia-Pacific, Gerber and Planters Peanuts.
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI
Population: 475,378 | Unemployment: 4.1 percent | Key Infrastructure: I-70, I-435
K.C. is the most geo-central major market in the nation, and it takes full advantage of its positioning. It is the largest rail center in the U.S. by tonnage, with more than 300 trains arriving and departing each day. It has single-day truck access to nearly every Midwestern market and a growing multimodal distribution network. It is one of only five areas in the country where four Interstates (I-35, I-70, I-29, I-49) intersect, and it has more underground warehouse space, for optimum climate controlled conditions, than any U.S. city.
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
Population: 623,747 | Unemployment: 6.9 percent | Key Infrastructure: McCarran International Airport
With more than 40 million visitors a year, 6 million of them conventioneers, Las Vegas is popular as a destination. But the city is fast-becoming well known for its ability to connect, whether that’s through data (the city boasts first-in-class fiber-optic data), over the road (same day, round-trip trucking to Los Angeles and Phoenix), or one-day rail routes to Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. All of this and more help make the city one of the most affordable business climates in the United States.
Population: 171,214 | Unemployment: 5.3 percent | Key Infrastructure: Ontario International Airport
Ontario and its San Bernardino County neighbor Chino landed huge projects from huge retailers—Chino was tabbed by Wal-Mart as the site for a 1.2-million-square-foot fulfillment center, QVC chose Ontario for a 1-million-square-foot distribution center—no doubt because of the area’s excellent logistics. It’s located about 35 miles east of downtown L.A. and its world-class port, paired with the Port of Long Beach, is connected by Interstates 10 and 15 as well as Ontario International Airport, the nation’s 15th busiest airport in cargo carried, serving as a major hub for FedEx and UPS.
Population: 304,391 | Unemployment: 5.7 percent | Key Infrastructure: Conway Rail Yard
Think of Pittsburgh and you think of the three rivers: Ohio, Monongahela and Allegheny. Fun fact: Pittsburgh has 446 bridges, three more than Venice, Italy, which calls itself the “City of Bridges.” The city is served by the Port of Pittsburgh, which ranks as the 21st largest port in the U.S., ninth when measured in domestic trade. Conway Rail Yard was, from 1956-80, the largest freight center in the world and still ranks as the nation’s second largest. Norfolk Southern Railway’s Pittsburgh line is one of the busiest freight corridors in the nation, operating up to 70 trains per day.
Population: 279,789 | Unemployment: 4.4 percent | Key Infrastructure: Ohio Turnpike
Toledo is all about infrastructure, having been created from the Erie Canal. The city has remained well-connected; located in the middle of the country it has two main highways, access to the Great Lakes and major rail and intermodal facilities. Now it is playing another pioneering role through the Toledo-Lucas County Sustainability Commission; the city has begun the process of exploring all manner of green infrastructure from storm water management to solar availability to working on creating and encouraging sustainable businesses.
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