Chicago is one of the most important transportation and distribution hubs in the world

  • The only location in the hemisphere where all six Class I railroads meet, Chicago transports half the nation's rail freight.
  • Seven interstate highways crisscross the Chicago region. Only two states have more interstate highway miles than Illinois. Chicago is a two-day truck haul from 219 million people, or 42% of the continent.
  • Chicago is now, by some estimates, the third-largest container port in the world, after Hong Kong and Singapore.
  • As a result, almost a trillion dollars worth of goods pass through the Chicago region every year.

This has led to the construction of hundreds of new distribution centers throughout the region

  • Chicago has half a billion square feet of warehouse space, making it one of the largest concentrations of warehouses on the planet.
  • There are about 150,000 warehouse workers in the Chicago region.
  • All of the big-box retailers, such as Wal-mart and Home Depot, have distribution centers in the area.
  • Many of the products we see on our retail shelves have passed through the hands of Chicago's warehouse workers.

Many warehouses are built around large "intermodal" centers.

  • At these centers shipping containers, most originating from southern China, are transferred from train cars to trucks, and are then taken to nearby distribution centers for unloading and processing.
  • With 25 intermodal facilities, Chicago is the number one intermodal container handler in the Western Hemisphere.
  • Will County, a community just to the southwest of Chicago, is home to the biggest intermodal expansion. Logistics Park Chicago, a large intermodal terminal in Elwood, IL, was built with over $150 million in public funds. A designated Foreign Trade Zone, companies who ship there pay discounted duty fees. Retailers and consumer products manufacturers, such as Wal-Mart and Bissell, have set up import processing warehouses within the intermodal complex.
  • As a result of intermodal expansion, Will County is now home to more than 300 warehouses.

An efficient supply chain is key to a retailer's profitability