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Charlotte USA Offers Ideal Infrastructure Network for Successful Industry

Charlotte Douglas International Airport links the region with the world

By Kevin Litwin on April 19, 2018

Charlotte, NC
Charlotte / Courtesy of Rob McKenzie Photography

Charlotte USA’s highly developed transportation system includes access to major interstates and highways, intermodal rail facilities, one of the world’s busiest international airports and a network of regional air facilities.

An extensive rail network handles more than 600 trains running through the region each week, and intermodal facilities link road and rail to air and seaports. Class I carriers CSX and Norfolk Southern provide primary service, while shortline railroads include Aberdeen Carolina & Western Railway and Lancaster & Chester Railroad.

Charlotte USA also offers convenient access to major seaports along the East Coast, including the Port of Wilmington, which is 200 miles from Charlotte. The Port of Charleston is within 210 miles of Charlotte, the Port of Savannah is 250 miles away, and the Port of Morehead City is within 315 miles.

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Spreading Their Wings

A jewel in the region’s transportation crown is Charlotte Douglas International Airport, which has 667 daily departures and nonstop service to 172 destinations. Besides Charlotte Douglas, smaller regional airports in the region include Concord Regional Airport in Cabarrus County, N.C., Gastonia Municipal Airport in Gaston County, N.C., Hickory Regional Airport in Catawba County, N.C., and Bryant Field Airpark in York County, S.C.

“This is the sixth-busiest airport in the world and a big player in the continued growth of our region,†says Ronnie Bryant, president and CEO of the Charlotte Regional Partnership. “Besides commercial and business travelers, a major intermodal facility is on the grounds with Norfolk Southern providing rail service while onsite air cargo facilities are operated by UPS, FedEx, Emory Worldwide and DHL.â€

The airport served nearly 46 million travelers in 2017, setting an all-time record. The previous high was 44.9 million passengers in 2015. 

“We remain focused on continued growth and accomplishing more milestones in 2018,†says Brent Cagle, aviation director for the airport.

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Among those milestones is ongoing facility renovations, with almost $2 billion earmarked for upgrades to parking structures, its 1.8 million square feet of terminal space, runways, the intermodal freight facility and a new control tower. The $200 million Concourse A North opened in June 2018 with nine new gates, bringing the total amount of terminal gates to 111 to accommodate passengers who fly the airport’s carriers.

American Airlines’ Charlotte hub is the third-busiest in the world, with 677 flights originating from the airport on the carrier each day. The airport offers a number of direct international flights, including Dublin, Frankfurt, London, Madrid, Munich, Paris and Rome.

“With main line railroads, major highways, access to ports on the East Coast and an amazing airport, Charlotte USA is now a true logistical hub for business,†Bryant says. “Our region offers an easy, quick, reliable way to receive and transport parts and products throughout the U.S. and the world.â€

Charlotte USA is Full of Flavor

An FTZ Advantage

Another logistics advantage Charlotte USA offers is Foreign Trade Zone No. 57, which allows companies involved with international trade to improve their competitiveness and profitability. By utilizing the FTZ program, companies are able to defer, reduce or eliminate customs duties on international products admitted to the zone.

One of the many area companies utilizing the FTZ opportunity is DNP Imagingcomm America, a Japanese company that began operating in the Charlotte USA region in 1995 to produce film and paper largely for the digital photos industry.

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“When customers take their digital film cards to Walgreens or other places, our film is what is used to produce print photos,†says Tyrone Bailey, logistics manager at DNP Imagingcomm America. “Also, about 80 percent of the driver’s licenses in the United States are produced with our film-making process.â€

Bailey says much of DNP’s raw and processing materials are imported from Japan, so being part of FTZ No. 57 is a smart idea.

“With FTZ, companies have the option to pay duty when first receiving the materials, or they can pay duty when the materials are shipped out of the zone after being manufactured into something else,†he says. “The duty rate after manufacturing materials into another product is lower, so we obviously choose to pay the lower rate on our finished products. It’s a great advantage for companies doing any kind of international business in this region.â€

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