A solid transportation network remains a driving force for the economy in Maury County, where major highways converge with Class I rail service and a regional airport to serve companies moving goods across the country.
For firms with truck distribution and logistics needs, Maury County's central location in Tennessee and the Southeast offers easy proximity to Interstate 65, State Route 840 and U.S. Highways 412, 43 and 31. The area is within a four-hour drive of major Southeastern markets like Atlanta, Birmingham, Chattanooga, Huntsville, Lexington, Louisville and Memphis.
"Our highway system in Maury County allows trucks to bypass Nashville traffic when traveling north, south, east and west, and it puts a large portion of the U.S. population within a day's drive of us," says Wil Evans, president of the Maury County Chamber & Economic Alliance. "Having access to two railroads also gives us an advantage in attracting large companies and industry."
The convenient highway system throughout Maury County is vital for distribution companies such as ADS Logistics, Ryder Logistics and Time Logistics. Located off U.S. Highway 31 in the northern part of Columbia, Time Logistics has 52 employees who coordinate the movement of 6 billion inserts and pieces of direct mail each year for companies such as Aldi, Dish Network, Rooms to Go and Walmart.
“My husband and I wanted to move from Chicago to establish my new business, and when we drove through Maury County looking for places, we really liked this area,” says Laura Shorette, owner and president of Time Logistics.
The company is responsible for coordinating all the transportation details once a client submits a print advertisement insert request at a printer and following through to make sure the product makes its sales date.
“I do a lot of traveling in my job, so I like the easy access to I-65 and the convenience of a local airport as well as the availability of the Nashville International Airport,” Shorette says.
Rail and a Regional Airport
For companies needing rail, Class I provider CSX connects Maury County with points north, while the Tennessee Southern Railroad connects to the Port of Florence, Ala. In addition, Nashville International Airport and the Port of Nashville are only 40 miles away to the north.
Companies preferring corporate jet travel can use Maury County Regional Airport, which has upgraded its 32 hangars and in 2014 will move the taxiway to accommodate larger airplanes hauling freight. Maury County Regional is the third-largest general aviation airport in Tennessee thanks in part to a 6,000-foot runway that can handle all sizes of corporate jets.
“Large corporate jets can’t land and take off at too many general aviation airports in Tennessee, but our 6,000-foot runway allows it to happen here,” says Paul Turner, Maury County Regional Airport manager. “And for planes carrying freight, there are two trucking companies right across the street from us that can haul goods anywhere.”
Maury County anticipates future transportation needs by becoming a member of the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization. In December 2013, Maury County joined nine other Nashville-area counties to form a strong MPO that will create more opportunities to receive federal dollars for infrastructure.
“Estimates show that 1 million additional people will move into the 10-county Nashville area in the near future, so interstates, highways and roads will need upgrades – including those in Maury County,” says Dean Dickey, mayor of Columbia. “If a region wants to attract large companies that offer quality-paying jobs, transportation is a big factor that needs to be addressed.”
Besides roads, Dickey says the MPO is looking into rail expansion along with mass transportation options.
“Maury County will be part of the discussion whenever talks of transportation upgrades come up in MPO meetings,” he says. “Whether it’s widening I-65 in our county or eventually initiating some sort of mass transportation system between here and Nashville, Maury County will be involved.”