Reprinted from SUPPLY CHAIN DIGEST, May 18, 2009
Expert Insight: Supply Chain InView by Ann Drake
Logistics Comment: Beyond Industry and Technology
US Needs to Move Past Localism to Build Logistics Infrastructure Needed to Stay Competitive
I recently had the chance to speak to graduates of industry and technology programs at the Illinois Institute of Technology. As part of the event, a group of graduates from the class of 2008 were called on stage to receive awards. As each student accepted the award, the presenter announced his or her special area of concentration and also where he or she is currently working. Many of them had specialized in industrial logistics.
Advancement of Our Global Leadership
The economy has been troubled. The job market is repressed. Yet nearly 100% of these graduates held credible jobs in their chosen field. Clearly, a good education in a technology-based logistics curriculum opens opportunities.
As I congratulated the students on their achievements, I also encouraged them to look beyond industry and technology as we envision what America needs to be and do to advance our position as global leader. I focused on three areas that require a new way of thinking and acting. One of these is especially and immediately important to our business of logistics and supply chain management -- and that is the way we choose to strengthen and expand America’s competitiveness.
Strengthening and Expanding America’s Competitiveness
My strong belief is that America’s best hope for prosperity and economic viability comes from changing the way we approach problems, including the deteriorating infrastructure – highways, rails, and ports -- on which our businesses depend. Instead of seeing ourselves as 50 states with distinct problems in competition with each other for available resources, we need to recognize the importance of the nation’s metropolitan areas and the “mega-regions” in which they are clustered. Metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) are actively engaged in an agenda that includes influencing policy-makers to view solutions from a regional and national perspective. We need to work together. We need to step beyond the local “turf” in which we traditionally operate. And we need to think long-term.
In my opinion, one of the best initiatives to come out of the Obama Administration is the new high-speed rail plan. Although this plan addresses public transportation issues – and does not relate to the railways or roads that carry our customers’ products to market – it is a huge step in the right direction. It offers regions throughout the U.S. the opportunity to connect, to cooperate, and to collaborate – which is how America will prosper.
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