Indiana Logistics Summit - a Big Draw
Nearly 500 people descended upon the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis Nov. 16-17 during the 14th annual Indiana Logistics Summit to hear over 20 speakers discuss global logistics issues and their impacts on the regional economy. "Global Connections" was the theme and attendees heard how Québec's $9 billion maritime strategy will impact Indiana as well as how railroads are adjusting to the fossil fuel implosion. Over 100 high school students attended the Logistics U presentation, "200 Years of Logistics in Indiana."
Dr. Robert E. Martínez, Vice President for Business Development and Real Estate for Norfolk Southern Corp., the fourth largest railroad in the U.S. with the most extensive intermodal network east of the Mississippi River, kicked off the conference with a keynote address dealing with the future of the rail industry. In ever-changing markets, Dr. Martínez offered insight into how shifting supply chains provide new commercial opportunities for railroads. With coal production down and natural gas prices recently reaching record lows, railroads are carrying less energy-related cargoes and are seeking new rail-served customers. He believes one major new opportunity will come about because of the completion of the Panama Canal expansion, which allows the locks to accommodate larger container ships. Martinez expects more cargo from Asia will now be coming to the Gulf and East coast ports providing more intermodal opportunities for railroads like Norfolk Southern.
Georges Farrar, Québec Associate Secretary General of Maritime Affairs, explained the significance of the Canadian province's $9 billion maritime strategy and the importance of a new partnership with Indiana. He pointed out that in the 1700s, Indiana was part of Québec and today the state is a gateway to American Midwest and Québec is a gateway to North America. With Québec's assets and Canada's trade agreements, the investment, which includes infrastructure improvements in 16 port zones, will reap an economic development benefit of 30,000 new direct jobs by 2030.
Lauren Brand, Associate Administrator of Intermodal System Development for the Maritime Administration, discussed the importance of a new marine highway program and creating new investments, opportunities for ports and funding the maritime infrastructure.
A "Global Connections" Reception featured a special celebration of Indiana's international logistics and economic ties to countries around the world. Distinguished guests included Indiana's Secretary of Commerce Victor Smith, Canada's Consul General in Detroit, Douglas George, and five other international consulates in Indianapolis including Javier Adud-Osuna, Mexican Consulate; Steven Tuchman, Danish Honorary Consulate; Sven Christian Schumacher, German Honorary Consulate; Ryan Marques, Portuguese Honorary Consulate and Steven Zlatos, Slovakian Honorary Consulate.
Stuart Rothenberg, a political analyst, commentator and humorist, provided one of the most anticipated keynote presentations, "Election Aftermath: An Inside Look at the 2016 Election and What it All Means."
In addition to keynote presentations, the conference featured breakout sessions with a variety of speakers and topics including Celadon Group Customer Service Director Jonathon Doss speaking about "The State of North America's Trucking Industry;" Brandye Hendrickson, Commissioner for the Indiana Department of Transportation, discussing "New Highway Connections;" and Rachel Roll, Learning and Development Manager at Elwood Staffing, talking about "The Millennials are Here! How to Engage Multiple Generations in the Workplace."
Offered for the first time, professional engineers and supply chain management professionals that attended the two-day conference received professional development hours and credit education units toward their respective certifications.