Understanding the Location Choices of Logistics Firms
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Distribution, warehousing and logistics facilities located in Canadian municipalities have significant impacts on surrounding land uses and on nearby transportation infrastructure, not to mention the broader socio-economic environment. While there is considerable literature available concerning the location choices of generic industrial firms, explorations of logistics firms’ locations have been less extensive. This is somewhat surprising because of the increasing ‘footlooseness’ of logistics firms and the potential issues surrounding their activity, for example related to the amount of freight traffic that they generate. There is a need for the public sector, including planners and economic developers, to better understand the requirements of the logistics industry in order to accommodate these firms while mitigating potentially adverse impacts to communities. The goal of this thesis is to identify and assess the relative importance of factors that influence the location choices of logistics firms in a municipality, and to identify potential issues of operational conflict between municipalities, their residents, and logistics firms. A web-based survey of logistics professionals has been carried out to help address this goal. Semi-structured interviews were then undertaken with participants who completed the survey and indicated an interest in further participation in the study. Overall, 42 completed survey responses were received, and 10 follow up phone interviews were conducted. The ability to operate 24/7 was reported as one of the most important location factors in addition to land costs, proximity to transportation infrastructure, and access to a skilled workforce. Transportation infrastructures such as rail intermodal facilities and airports are seen as important regional considerations but close proximity is not important on a site specific level. Through interview results participants indicated problems with parking bylaw requirements, and operating restrictions during the nighttime as challenges related to their specific location. Results confirm general understanding of what drives location choice for industrial firms, but the additional necessity for a robust operating environment for logistics firms highlights the need for planners to pay particular attention to the specific requirements of this important economic sector.