The United Marketplace of America

February 6, 2012

“Our supply chain is a weapon of mass competition,” Matt Rose, BNSF Railway

There are many things that united America, the pursuit of freedoms, common enemies, the bill of rights, declaration of independence, and the U.S. constitution. Another is the country’s incredible infrastructure – the transcontinental railroad, the interstate system, our air traffic control system, the electrical grids and natural gas pipelines, and today’s modern telecommunications and digital infrastructure to push bits and bytes throughout the marketplace.

Parts of this infrastructure are decaying and in need of repair or worse yet, are obsolete. However, America’s infrastructure is still the envy of the world for its sure breadth and how it has created a united marketplace for global goods with common standards and rules of commerce. I will emphasize that it is not perfect, and other markets are catching up or surpassing the U.S. in individual areas. China’s high speed trains are enviable, Europe’s public transportation system is quite impressive, and – get ready – Estonia leads the world’s countries in download speeds.

Each piece of this infrastructure needs investment, and in some cases massive investment, if we are to continue to present to the world one united marketplace. Record levels of investment are happening in some areas. According to the Association of American Railroads over $20 billion was invested in 2011 alone. Investments by CSX and Norfolk Southern in Ohio are great examples of how this is having an impact. Likewise, our metropolitan public transportation systems are changing, brought on by demand, demographic changes, technology that reduces the cost of implementation, and environmental advantages for metros that invest in these areas.

Transportation investment is directly related to economic development success for our country and our Region, and while budget realities and competing priorities are obstacles to traditional investment they can also be a trigger for creative solutions. Let’s choose the latter and create an enduring advantage for future generations.

This week the Columbus2020 team will be participating in the Jones Lang LaSalle Academy in Phoenix and will meet with a few Phoenix based companies. The team will also travel to New York City for an internationally based trip to meet with a number of consulate’s offices and trade associations, in part to prepare for our India and China missions.

Kenny McDonald
Chief Economic Officer