Geography, interstate access and a stable workforce are helping to make the Nashville area a distribution and warehousing hub.
Even during the recent downturn, Wilson County attracted two major projects. Leviton, a manufacturer of electrical and electronic wiring devices, operates a 450,000-square-foot distribution facility in Lebanon. It is one of the company’s two U.S. distribution and warehousing centers.
Vi-Jon, maker of Germ-X hand sanitizer, also runs a 700,000-square-foot distribution center in Mt. Juliet.
“When you compare what is happening here with what is happening with other cities, we are in great shape,” says Tom Frye, managing director of CB Richard Ellis in Nashville.
Ideal Trucking Hub
Interstates 24, 40 and 65 converge in Nashville, which is about 200 miles from the FedEx hub in Memphis and the UPS hub in Louisville. Regulations that limit the hours truck drivers can spend behind the wheel also make the region more attractive for companies needing large building sites.
“The trucking industry has realized the geographic location of Nashville is superior to just about anywhere else in country,” Frye says.
G.C. Hixson, director of the Joint Economic & Community Development Board of Wilson County, credits the decision to extend sewer lines to the Nashville Superspeedway race track near Lebanon for industrial growth along the I-840 corridor.
“You only think of it three or four times a year, but the economic impact has been tremendous,” Hixson says.
More than 5 million square feet of new industrial space followed the racetrack, which opened in 2000.
“We have plenty of flat land,” Hixson says.
The metro region was absorbing about 2 million square feet of industrial space annually until mid-decade, when the figures more than doubled. They settled back to 2.5 million in 2007 and 1 million in 2008.
On the Horizon
Experts see the potential for more growth as fuel costs fluctuate and big companies re-evaluate the trend toward consolidating their logistics operations at a few massive sites.
“They may revisit the model and decide they need more of them nearer their customer base,” says Terry W. Smith, a principal at Nashville Commercial Real Estate Services/Cushman & Wakefield. Such a trend, he says, “will tend to give us some favor in Middle Tennessee.”