10 ways the transportation industry has Tennessee on a roll
Tennessee is all about transportation. Let’s count the ways:
- The state is blessed with a geographic location that places it at the heart of commerce in the United States. It borders eight states, more than any other except Missouri, which also borders eight.
- Tennessee’s highway network is unmatched. The state has access to eight interstate highways that put 60 percent of the nation’s population within a drive of 11 hours or less. I-40 runs across Tennessee for 455 miles – more than any other state – and that stretch of interstate frequently is rated as the best maintained in the U.S.
- Its air connections are top-notch, too. Memphis International is the busiest cargo airport in the western hemisphere. The state also has some 1,000 miles of navigable waterways, and six Class 1 railroads.
- More than 265,000 Tennesseans work in the transportation, logistics and distribution industry at companies as diverse as Walmart, Averitt Express, Norfolk Southern, Nike, and Macy’s, according to the state Department of Economic and Community Development.
- Building and maintaining the state’s transportation infrastructure supports more than 71,000 full-time jobs, according to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, including more than 35,000 directly involved in construction and related activities.
- The trucking industry, itself, accounts for more than 180,000 jobs, including nearly 75,000 truck drivers, per a Memphis Business Journal report.
- Tennessee’s largest publicly traded company – FedEx – is a transportation behemoth with more than $50 billion in revenue. Its Memphis hub sprawls over 862 acres, making it the largest sorting facility in the world. Its 42 miles of conveyor belts handle 1.3 million to 1.5 million packages every night, shipping them to 220 counties and territories across the globe.
- In East Tennessee, the state’s two largest privately held companies also are transportation-related giants. Pilot Flying J, with some $23 billion in revenue, operates more than 650 travel centers in 43 states and Canada, employing some 24,000, and is the No. 1 seller of over-the-road diesel fuel. HT Hackney is one of the country’s biggest distributors of wholesale food and retail items, delivering some 30,000 different products to more than 20,000 locations in 22 states. Its revenues top $4 billion, and it has some 3,400 employees.
- At the University of Tennessee, the Center for Transportation Research has been operating for 45 years and is now an internationally recognized center of innovation, with more than $10 million in sponsored research under contract. It plays a critical role in supporting the Tickle College of Engineering’s training of the state’s future transportation professionals.
- At UT’s Haslam College of Business, its graduate concentration in supply chain management is rated eighth best in the nation in the U.S. News rankings. That’s just behind Stanford University (but Stanford’s tuition is $66,540 per year, and UT’s is a bargain at $24,834 in-state and $43,252 out-of-state).
All of these are good reasons to dedicate this edition of the Greater Knoxville Business Journal to the topic of transportation and logistics. And there are plenty more, several of which you can read about inside.
Tennessee is on a roll, and the transportation industry is a big reason why.