fDi Magazine, produced by the Financial Times, has ranked Baltimore's Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) #74, managed by the Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC), as the fourth best port-related Foreign Trade Zone in the world.
The magazine analyzed 700 economic zones, dwindling that number down to 200 before requesting dossiers from each nominated FTZ. Baltimore came in fourth under the "Best Port Zone" category for 2010/2011, following the zones of Shanghai and Tangier, Morocco and Jacksonville, FL. Of the remaining U.S. port zones on the top 10 list, the Foreign Trade Zone of Los Angeles ranked eighth.
The magazine evaluated Zones based on their economic potential, promotional strategy, cost effectiveness, facilities, transportation, incentives and foreign direct investment strategy
Baltimore's Foreign Trade Zone is one of the more active FTZ's in the United States with 13 current operators utilizing over 3 million square feet of activated space. At the end of fiscal year 2009, imported goods were valued at $1.7 billion with the highest value of commodities being automobiles, aluminum and alcohol. FTZ #74 serviced 82 businesses and contributed to more than 762 full-time jobs among its operators, with a total employment of almost 1,000 (including part-time and seasonal) workers. The Zone was responsible for the re-exporting of over $13 million in goods overseas.
"Baltimore has really come on the map in terms of its FTZ because of its London Metal Exchange warehouses. Metals like aluminum comes down from Canada and needs a lot of warehouse space. We're probably the most well-known port on the East Coast for London Metal Exchange warehousing. This has really put us on the map," says Elizabeth Weiblen Hines, director, Foreign Trade Zone #74, Baltimore Development Corporation.
"There are 263 FTZs in the U.S. and alot of them have designated space, like 30,000 acres, but they only have one operator or business that needs its. They said, 'if they build it they will come' and that's not necessarily right. What the BDC brings is the ability to be flexible and to quickly acitivate FTZ space when a company needs it. That's one of the things we've brought to the table and is changing the way businesses see Baltimore," she continues.
The FTZ has always been important to Baltimore City and the BDC. Businesses find a great warehouse and then approach the BDC to request FTZ benefits. "Having the city be the grantee of FTZ space means we've been able to do it more efficiently."
Another major factor contributing to the ranking and the success of the Port of Baltimore, according to Hines, is that it is the furthest inland port on the East Coast with one-third of the U.S. population within an 8-hour drive. This proximity to market is a main reason that businesses choose Baltimore. The city also has a great rail system and has easy access to the Interstate 95.
Hines says she hopes that the ranking will help the BDC as it continues to ramp up it increasingly directs its attention to attracting businesses overseas to Baltimore.
Source: Elizabeth Weiblen Hines, BDC
Writer: Walaika Haskins