small towns give shipping industry run for money

These 15 Small Towns Give the Shipping Industry a Run for Its Money

The picture of business and commerce has changed over time from agricultural to industrial. As more people shop online, shipping needs grow. Additionally, when people shop online, they expect features such as low-cost or free shipping and quick delivery. As a result, more warehouses and distribution centers are being developed all around the country.

construction man in warehouseOften, companies are electing to place distribution and fulfillment centers in small towns. When small towns and rural areas get job growth through warehouses or distribution centers, it provides individuals with a new financial opportunity. They can often establish a career in the fulfillment center.

A whole town gets a financial boost with the addition of a fulfillment center and the jobs it provides. However, distribution and fulfillment centers can also negatively affect the greater shipping industry because it changes how the whole system works.

Regional distribution and fulfillment centers are reshaping and shifting job distributions. For example, fewer truck drivers may be needed to carry goods across long distances. Additionally, some fulfillment centers use robots and technology for the work, which can ultimately take jobs away from people.

Overall, these changes mean some of the small towns with new warehouses and distribution centers may give the shipping industry a run for its money.

Companies need to use the right tools, good efficiency, and cost-saving measures to stay at the top.



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Tracy, California

At one time, Tracy was an agricultural community that was largely unremarkable. However, its location at the joining of major highways, its proximity to Oakland, California, and its proximity to an airport make it a great location for fulfillment centers.

According to the mayor of Tracy, Robert Rickman, “It’s a fulfillment center boomtown.”  Indeed, many major online, home goods, interior decorating, food, and shipping companies have set up distribution centers in Tracy. The boom has created change in the community of Tracy with job growth, population growth, and development in other industries (such as hotels and restaurants).

The change in Tracy was well-planned. Town leaders worked to transform the area into a prime location for fulfillment centers, to match the changing financial climate of California. Plans included transforming the agricultural land and making it available for redevelopment. Companies received tax rebates, tax deferments, and other incentives to entice them to locate there.

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Mira Loma, California

Another California town with multiple fulfillment centers is Mira Loma, California. Mira Loma has an interesting history as a small town, with name and boundary changes over the years. Regardless of its history, its current easy access to Highways 10, 15, and 60 make it an ideal location for fulfillment centers.

Mira Loma Quote

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Patterson, California

Located just off Interstate 5 and only 27 miles from Tracy, the next small town on the list is Patterson, California. It also hosts a large fulfillment center for the popular online retailer Amazon, which brought many new job options to the residents. This location has some small-town charm, as it holds an annual Apricot Festival. The Apricot Fiesta occurs each year in June.

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Troutdale, Oregon

When an online marketer selected Troutdale, Oregon for a fulfillment center, it created a symbiotic relationship. The fulfillment center brought many jobs to the area. Meanwhile, the fulfillment center benefits from a large potential workforce of individuals, eager to work.

Like many of the other locations chosen for fulfillment centers, Troutdale is strategically located. The city acts as a gateway to the Columbia River Highway, the Mount Hood Scenic Byway, and the scenic Columbia River Gorge. It also lies where the Sandy and Columbia Rivers meet. Portland is a nearby metropolitan area, which is also helpful for the fulfillment center.

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Millington, Tennessee

A small town that plays host to the new industry of fulfillment centers, Millington, Tennessee has a lot of small town charm, with such events as their annual Goat Days. Millington is also home to the Naval Support Activity Mid-South naval station and the Memphis International Raceway, which are great locations to visit.

Millington resides in the greater metropolitan area around Memphis. The recent completion of Veterans Parkway has better linked Millington to the surrounding highway. Millington also has access to regional and larger airports (in nearby Memphis). In fact, Memphis Airport is the largest cargo terminal in the United States.

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Hebron, Kentucky

An unincorporated but census-designated place, Hebron, Kentucky is small. However, it does have a regional airport, the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, which serves the Tri-State area of Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana. Hebron is also well connected geographically to other locations with its proximity to a major highway.

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Its central location and access to transportation were likely key features that earned Hebron a major fulfillment center for an online retailer. For potential visitors to Hebron, it also boasts six locations listed on the National Registrar of Historic Places, including several historic homes, along with the Hebron Deposit Bank and the Crisler-Crisler Mounds Site.

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New Lenox, Illinois

The town of New Lenox in Illinois hosts a fulfillment center. This town is an ideal location, in part because of its proximity to Chicago and the Chicago O’Hare Airport, which is one of the busiest cargo airports in the United States. There is also a regional airport nearby.

New Lenox is also an ideal location for a fulfillment center because of its location where several major roads meet, including U.S. Route 30, I-80, and I-355. The last of these recently expanded. Collectively, this system of roads leads to easy transportation with many other highways to Chicago and the surrounding suburbs.

New Lenox is also accessible for commuters by the Metra which links to Chicago. While New Lenox currently hosts a fulfillment center, it will soon also be home to outlet shops and other industries, showing again the way in which this new industry can help a small town grow.

Often, once a fulfillment center locates in a small town, other businesses follow and become established to meet new and increased demands for products. There is often an increased need for hotels, restaurants, and retail shops.

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Carol Stream, Illinois

Similar to New Lenox, Carol Stream is a great location for shipping hubs because it is within driving distance of Chicago O’Hare Airport, the fifth busiest cargo airport in the U.S. Also, like New Lenox, Carol Stream has multiple roads and a railway connecting it to many other locations.

With this location’s ability to connect to nearby communities, Carol Stream hosts multiple fulfillment centers and shipping hubs for various businesses and industries. For local fun, tourists may enjoy the Carol Stream Summer Concert series, which has musical guests, food, and beverages. The concerts are a great summertime activity for families to enjoy.

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Luckey, Ohio

Founded in 1879 by U.S. Army Captain James B. Luckey, this small town started with 180 acres and a sawmill. The town grew in 1881 with the addition of restaurants, hotels, and even a post office. That humble beginning led to a town that today plays host to the distribution and fulfillment industry.

In fact, in 2015, a large, brand-new, technologically equipped distribution center for the nationwide home improvement store Home Depot was built in Luckey. Like many of the others on this list, this distribution center is intended to handle online orders. This center is also much different from the small and simple post office founded in 1881!

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Jonestown, Pennsylvania

Moving to the east coast, the small town of Jonestown, Pennsylvania is ideally located to serve nearby metropolitan areas. With multiple fulfillment centers located in Jonestown, these centers can contribute to order fulfillment all along the coast, ranging from Maine to Florida.

Fulfillment centers in Jonestown benefit from close access to the Port of Philadelphia, the Port of Baltimore, and the Port of NY/NJ. The newest additions to the area are state-of-the art facilities that can complete order-fulfillment in just one to two days.

This quick turn-around time between order placement and delivery makes customers happy. The proximity of this fulfillment center to the destinations for delivery allows for low-cost or free shipping, which also makes customers happy.

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Middletown, Delaware

Moving to the northeastern part of the United States, Middletown, Delaware also hosts a new fulfillment center that helps to serve order delivery along the east coast. The new fulfillment center has contributed to stimulating economic growth in Middletown.

Although Middletown has historically been a small town, and remains so now, it is one of the fastest-growing areas of Delaware. With a fulfillment center attracting workers, some commute from nearby locations—even from Philadelphia.

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For tourists, Middletown hosts the annual Olde Tyme Peach Festival, a fun event with parades, food vendors, and other activities. Middletown is also the site of an annual Labor Day M.O.T. Big Ball Marathon, a charity event that runs for 24 hours. People of all ages play baseball during the marathon. Middletown also has the annual Hummers Parade, where people dress up to imitate pop culture events and celebrities.

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North East, Maryland

The small town of North East, Maryland lies near the Chesapeake Bay. Proximity to water is always a great feature for a town that wants to grow in the distribution and fulfillment center industry. Like many other small towns on this list, North East now has a fulfillment center for online sales. This small town may also have some appeal to visitors and tourists with historic sites, such as the Turkey Point Light Station and the Gilpin Falls Covered Bridge.

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Jefferson, Georgia

The southern region of the United States has also benefited from the new industry of fulfillment centers. Jefferson, Georgia is one such community. Amazon brought new jobs to this charming southern town.

Jefferson is a picturesque location with strong community spirit. Tourist attractions also include the Shields Ethridge Heritage Farm, which is an agricultural museum located outdoors. There is also a museum dedicated to surgical pioneer Crawford W. Long.

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Locust Grove, Georgia

Located in Henry County, Locust Grove is a small Georgian town, surrounded by unincorporated communities that link with it for commerce. This seemingly sleepy location is the location for an online fulfillment center for a national home improvement brand.

The new fulfillment center, along with other new businesses such as outlet malls, and an influx of population have awakened the economy. Locust Grove also houses a place with a special mission—the Noah’s Ark Animal Rehabilitation Center that rescues exotic animals

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Clear Brook, Virginia

Another southern location to join the ranks of small towns hosting fulfillment centers, is Clear Brook, Virginia. Clear Brook was recently identified as a location for an online retailer fulfillment center that will be responsible for packing and shipping large items.

Virginia is a great choice for fulfillment centers because of its strong work force and its location. Fulfillment orders are easy out of Virginia, because of its solid infrastructure, and it is only a one-day drive to over 40% of United States locations.

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Warehouses, distribution centers, and fulfillment centers are giving Clear Brook, like other American small towns, new life after times of economic depression. In some cases, these industries are putting these small towns on the map, making them more well-known and more appealing for additional businesses and industries to build there.

In addition to being selected for a new fulfillment center, Clear Brook holds many other honors. It is now the site for the Hogging Up BBQ and Music Festival, which is a Kansas City Barbeque Society-sanctioned annual event. Clear Brook is also well-known for its annual holiday light display that runs from Thanksgiving to early January.

Closing Thoughts

Changes to how orders are fulfilled are helpful for small towns. However, warehouses, distribution centers, and fulfillment centers do represent a challenge for the traditional shipping industry. There may be some job loss and other shifts in the shipping industry as a result.

If you work in the shipping industry, you will want to take steps to stay at the top of the game. Using the best tools and techniques for efficiency will help your business. You will want to stay sharp on industry standards, including tools and means for efficiency. Using the best tools and the most efficient methods will help you retain the best employees, save money, produce the best profits, and have a successful business.


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