I plan to spend most of today (and some of tomorrow) on an airplane. Along with a delegation of regional and state officials, I am traveling to China to suggest that the central geography, moderate climate, established transportation infrastructure, and lower costs of St. Louis make us the perfect choice of that country’s Ministry of Commerce for a new air freight hub.
St. Louis is the second largest inland port in the US; the third largest rail commerce center; and the intersection of four major interstate highways. Within 600 miles (a day’s truck drive) of the Arch are more than a third of the country’s population, workers, gross domestic product, and disposable income — and almost half of the country’s manufacturing employment.
Lambert Airport has three parallel, all-weather runways and is adjacent to more than a thousand acres of developable ground. Nearby Mid-America Airport has parallel runways of 8K and 10K, and 900 acres of land around it. Compared to, say, Chicago (hundreds of miles further north of the country’s center), St. Louis’ airports offer fewer congestion- and weather-related delays — and, consequently, lower costs.
It is a simple economic reality that more and more US goods will be going to China over the next several decades. An airfreight hub in St. Louis makes perfect sense.
I will keep you posted on the trip.