March 27, 2015

Chinese business leaders consider West Memphis

They were treated to barbecue for lunch and provided with symbolic keys to the city, but the nine-member delegation of business leaders from China were in West Memphis earlier this month for something more – to see first-hand the unique
logistics perks the Eastern Arkansas city has to offer.

Headed by Li Zhi, Secretary General of the Shenzen Logistics and Supply Chain Management Association, the group visited West Memphis on March 19 to learn what the city’s boosters preach to domestic businesses week in and week out.

“West Memphis is in the nation’s logistical center and has several thousand acres of rail-served industrial sites, all with easy access to the Union Pacific Intermodal Yard and two major interstates,” says Ward Wimbish, the city’s Director of Economic Development. “The UP Intermodal Yard is our area’s links to the ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach.”

Currently, the clearest connection for Chinese business interests is the Port of New Orleans, Wimbish says. Recent recurring problems with Los Angeles and Long Beach—combined with the expected increase of container traffic in the Gulf Mexico following the completion of work to widen the Panama Canal—makes moving containers upriver from New Orleans to West Memphis more attractive.

The visit is tied the city’s ongoing strategy to move on to the radar of Chinese business leaders. Wimbish visits China regularly to network. He has stayed in touch with Mr. Li over the years and has been invited to the next China International Logistics and Transportation Fair (CILF) in October.

After an introductions and a video presentation at City Hall, Wimbish and the group toured the UP yard. They were joined by T. J. VanWagner representing the city’s port operator, Kinder Morgan. VanWagner described the plans to establish a container yard and a barge-to-truck transload facility near the port.

Also joining the group for the tour was Neely Mallory, Chairman of Memphis-based Neely Alexander International Logistics. He spoke to the delegation of the importance of locating warehouses close to customers and other benefits of operating a warehouse in the U.S.

For more information contact Ward Wimbish at 870-732-8500 or www.west