Ann Strauss-Wieder Talks Challenges Facing Industrial Sector at Northeast CRE Summit
by Josh Anderson
JERSEY CITY, NJ — The Last Mile is an integral part of the modern-day supply chain. Not only is it changing before our eyes, you better catch a glimpse or you won’t even recognize it. So says Anne Strauss-Wieder, Director for Freight Planning at the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, who was a featured speaker at CapRE’s Sixth Annual Northeast Industrial Real Estate & E-Commerce Distribution Summit, last month. There, she spoke in depth about the Last Mile — What it is, what it’s becoming, and why we should wrap our head around it. Below, she shares insight from conversations in the field about the Last-Mile — with surprising insight as to the challenges facing our industry.
“A sufficient workforce is a very, very major issue right now, across every single aspect of the supply chain,” she shared. “Whether we’re talking truck drivers or people working in the buildings, labor is the one consideration now when doing industrial deals. Do you have enough labor for that building? And let’s talk about that a little bit.”
She then referred to photo of an Amazon Facility in New Jersey. “Do you know what’s different about it? Parking. There’s a lot more parking,” she explained. “A typical distribution center typically has .3 employees per thousand square feet. An e-commerce fulfillment center typically has 1.3 per thousand square feet and in peak season 3 employees per thousand square feet. It’s a huge economic generator, but all of a sudden we want parking lots.
“So think about that in terms of a land-use plan, and also in terms of recruiting a workforce,” she advised. “It’s not just finding them and training them, but how are they going to get to these new places?”
“We’ve talked a lot today about the shift in retail, how maybe you’re not as likely to go to the store. The origin destination of workers though is still very important. In terms of retaining workers, how are you getting workers to the site that you want to develop? And how are we in the public sector reacting to this change in the origin destination patterns for the workforce?” continued Strauss-Wieder.
However, there are already creative solutions at work, according to Strauss-Wieder. “Keeping that in mind, there is an Amazon hub in Mercer County, New Jersey, and there is a transportation management association in each of the counties [around it],” she revealed. “Those are public-private organizations that are focused on last-mile connectivity. And the greater Mercer transportation management association worked with Amazon, with Amazon paying about 50% of the bills, to connect the warehouses in that area with a transit hub. That’s a way to get your workers there and make sure they stay there. it’s not just what you pay them, but how they get to your place of work.”
For more from Strauss-Wieder, check out previous CapRE Insider Reports covering her earlier remarks: