<< Return to Blog List

Logistics Leaders Discuss ‘Flexible’ Supply Chains at KC SmartPort Annual Industry Briefing: FLEX

by Mary Rooney | Apr 03, 2019

KC SmartPort’s 2019 Annual Industry Briefing: FLEX, delivered an expert panel of leaders from Amazon, Cushman & Wakefield, BNSF Railway and Heitman Architects. The panel addressed a crowd of more than 550 logistics, real estate and economic development professionals on April 4 in Kansas City.

According to CBRE, the Kansas City industrial market grew by close to 40 million square feet from 2012-19. This growth – and continued spec development – is happening across all sub-markets in the KC region.

Chris Gutierrez, president of KC SmartPort said, “The Kansas City region has been on fire the last six to seven years in the industrial market. While the economy and most indicators point to continued growth, the need for companies to increase flexibility in operations and hiring practices has never been greater. That is true of how companies build, use and occupy space as well.”

Event speakers discussed the ways companies and organizations are adapting to changes and opportunities by implementing flexible practices and flexible supply chains.

Mike Grella, Amazon’s director of economic development from 2012-19, was the keynote speaker for the event. Grella oversaw Amazon’s expansion projects totaling more than 50 million square feet, encompassing $10 billion in investment, generating 100,000-plus jobs. His speech described trends in flexible space usage and its corresponding requirements.

Grella said, “With best-in-class, diverse intermodal capabilities, reasonable cost structure, deep supply chain expertise leaning on disruptive technologies and bar-raising educational institutions filling the logistics talent pipeline, developers are voting overwhelmingly for the KC metro area as a top-tier supply chain hub, evidenced by 3.3 million square feet of new spec warehouse space so far in 2019 and more in the works.”

Other panelists included Karl Heitman, president, Heitman Architects, who has 30 years of experience in corporate facility design, plus a unique understanding of “Manufacturing 4.0” technologies and digital connectivity, Colby Tanner, assistant vice president, BNSF Railway, who is responsible for directing, planning and implementing the location and expansion of industries within the BNSF System and Ann Petersen, managing director, Cushman & Wakefield, with 15 years of experience in economic development negotiations, including coordination and implementation of incentives.

These experts discussed a number of topics, including workforce development, transportation flexibility and space usage/design.

2019 Sponsors

The 2019 KC SmartPort Annual Industry Briefing would not have been possible without the support and partnership of our sponsors.

A special thank you to our Marquee sponsors.

BNSF LogoBNSF Railway is a critical link that connects consumers with the global marketplace. They are a product of nearly 400 different railroad lines merged or acquired over 160 years. BNSF continues to meet the needs of shippers and serving the economy.

DSIDSI’s Digital Supply Chain Platform delivers mobile first software solutions focused on helping companies advance their supply chain to meet the accelerated demands of the digital economy. Based in Kansas City, Missouri, DSI serves more than 1,200 customers globally.

ElevateEdgerton.Logo.FINALThe community of Edgerton, Kansas, has rapidly emerged as a primary conduit to the global supply chain. ElevateEdgerton! is a public-private economic development partnership dedicated to advocating awareness of the pro-business attitude that “elevated” a small town on the southwest corner of Kansas City metro in a major player in the commercial development scene.

See all KC SmartPort Annual Industry Briefing Sponsors here.

Leave a comment

KC by the Numbers

Brand Toolkit


KC News