An explosive surge in warehouse and distribution activity has our inland ports booming, and it shows no sign of slowing down. According to a new report from CBRE Group, Inc., the rapid growth of e-commerce has created a large demand for industrial buildings in the 12 primary U.S. inland-port markets. In fact, demand for industrial buildings in those markets is so strong that nine of the 12 have seen their availability rates decline from their post-recession peaks faster than the national rate.

U.S. seaports have been flooded with an unprecedented volume of foreign cargo destined for e-commerce markets across the U.S. That cargo is routed from seaports to nearby inland ports, which are major hubs where cargo is handled, warehoused and broken into smaller batches for further distribution to consumers within that region.

Inland ports are defined as having a Class I rail connection to a major seaport and having access to significant transportation infrastructure (rail, highway, waterway, or a combination of the three). The twelve main inland ports are: are: Southern California ‘s Inland Empire; Phoenix; Dallas/Ft. Worth; Kansas City; Houston; St. Louis; Chicago; Memphis, Tenn.; Columbus, Ohio; Atlanta; Greenville, S.C.; and East and Central Pennsylvania.

With such rapid e-commerce growth, and thus the need for warehouse and distribution centers, the markets can ‘t keep up with demand, even with the upswing in construction. Chicago (which is the largest inland port), for example, has the lowest availability rate at just 6.6 percent. Greenville, South Carolina, has experienced triple-digit growth in cargo volume since opening since opening an inland port there in 2013, due in part to its growing manufacturing base and the nearby Port of Charleston.

“Inland-port markets have recovered faster than their non-port counterparts since the Great Recession, said Scott Marshall, CBRE ‘s Executive Managing Director of Industrial & Logistics in the Americas. “These markets will hold their edge because they have sustainable advantages in their infrastructure, access to population centers and connections to major seaports to benefit them for the foreseeable future.

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