Distribution refers to the movement of a product or service from one point to another, which can include supplier to manufacturer, manufacturer to retailer, or retailer to end customer. The distribution “chain'” can involve all manners of freight carriers such as air, barge or ship, motor freight or rail.
Companies that are involved in logistics services are engaged in the process of planning, implementing, and controlling the movement and storage of raw materials, in-process inventory, finished goods, and related information from the point of origin to the consumer.
Supply chain management is also an important component of distribution and logistics services and is centered on improving the way a company finds the materials required to make a product or service and efficiently deliver it to customers.
One of the Jackson Region’s greatest strengths related to distribution and logistics services is its location which offers easy access to interstates, river, air and rail. Interstate 40 serves as the major east-west road within the Jackson Region and connects the region to California to the west and North Carolina to the east. Other major east-west roads in the region include U.S. Highway 70 and U.S. Highway 412. U.S. Highway 412 also connects with Interstate 55 which runs north-south from Chicago, Illinois to New Orleans, Louisiana. U.S. Highway 45 is the major north-south road in the Jackson region. Major state roads in the region include Highways 18, 198, and 223.
Three railroad companies provide rail service in the Jackson region. CSX and Norfolk Southern provide main line service and the West Tennessee Railroad provides short line rail service. The West Tennessee Railroad connects with both CSX and Norfolk Southern, and has interchanges in Fulton, Kentucky with Canadian National Railway, Humboldt, Tennessee with CSX, and in Corinth, Mississippi with Kansas City Southern and Norfolk Southern.
The Jackson Region is located near the future Port of Cates Landing in Lake County in the northwest corner of the state of Tennessee, which is less than two hours from Jackson. The Port of Cates Landing is on the Mississippi River and is currently under construction. Upon completion, it will be accessible to barge traffic and will have loading and unloading facilities that can serve barges, rail, and truck transportation.
The center of the Jackson Region is also located approximately 80 miles from Memphis, Tennessee, and its transportation resources, which include the International Port of Memphis, the world headquarters of FedEx and a new Norfolk Southern Regional Intermodal facility, which is currently under construction.
The International Port of Memphis is located along the Mississippi River and is the second largest inland port on the shallow draft portion of the Mississippi River. The port is 400 river miles from St. Louis and 600 river miles from New Orleans and is ice-free year round. The port covers both the Tennessee and Arkansas sides of the Mississippi River from river Mile 725 to mile 740, and includes 68 water-fronted facilities, of which 37 are terminal facilities moving commodities, coal, petroleum, manufactured goods and numerous other items. The port handles approximately 2.5 billion tons of material each year, which represents nearly 28 percent of all waterborne commerce in the United States.
FedEx’s Memphis Super Hub features 300 miles of conveyor belts to move packages, the largest air cargo fleet in the world and includes space for 175 aircraft. The hub employs approximately 12,000 workers handling an estimated 3.3 million packages each day.
In late April 2011, construction began on Norfolk Southern’s new $105 million Memphis Regional Intermodal Facility, which is part of the multi-state $2.5 billion Crescent Corridor initiative to establish an efficient, high-capacity intermodal freight rail route between the South and the Northeast on Norfolk Southern's rail network. The Memphis facility is being built on 380 acres in Fayette County and will create around 6,200 jobs in the Memphis region over the next ten years. Once the facility is operational in late 2012, it will have the capacity to handle 327,000 containers and trailers per year.
The Jackson Region has several companies which are engaged in distribution or logistics services including Lowe’s which operates a distribution center in Haywood County; Pictsweet, also located in Haywood County, which is a frozen food distributor; and book distributor Perseus Distribution in Madison County.