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With prime location, Reno-Sparks becoming major distribution network

Duane Johnson
March 16, 2018

“We have immediate access to port of entry in California and logistically can reach locations in 11 western states within 24 to 48 hours,” said Nancy McCormick, vice president of business retention, expansion & workforce for the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN). “It’s all about location, location, location. Along with other secondary factors of availability of land, easy access to our freeway system makes it easier to do business here.”

A UPS truck is loaded prior to its next rip. The Reno-Sparks region has become a launching pad for distribution and logistics across the western United States.

According to data provided by EDAWN, Reno-Sparks has one-day truck service to the Bay Area, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Portland, Ore., and Boise, Idaho. Further, the region provides two-day service to Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico.

McCormick also pointed out that Reno is actually located farther west on the map than Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Phoenix, providing the region easier access to major ports that dot the Pacific Rim.


Direct access to Interstate 80 makes the region a natural fit for distribution. Further, the recent opening of the USA Parkway that connects I-80 to Highway 50 in Storey County, along with the development of the Southeast Connector in Sparks and southeast Reno, provides alternative truck routes to southbound destinations.

Mike Moreno, public affairs administrator for the Regional Transportation Commission in Washoe County, told the NNBW that the RTC and Nevada Department of Transportation are further collaborating on improvement projects at the Spaghetti Bowl in Reno and roadways between Reno and the Carson Valley.

The alternate routes should be a relief to trucking companies, especially if there’s an accident, congestion or roadway projects on I-80, officials said.

Air service also has been an important component to Northern Nevada’s logistics synergy. According to reports compiled by the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority, approximately 416,000 pounds of cargo arrive or depart from Reno-Tahoe International Airport on a daily basis. The airport also services major carriers including DHL, FedEx and UPS.

As a part of its five-year strategic plan released in 2017, one of the RTAA’s goals is to increase cargo service to major western markets, as well as to Asia and Europe.


One blip on Reno-Sparks’ otherwise-robust logistics capabilities is the lack of an intermodal freight transport facility within the region.

An intermodal system is the transport of freight utilizing intermodal containers or vehicles (such as rail cars, ships and trucks) while limiting or eliminating the need for handling of freight when exchanging modes.

The closest intermodal facility is in the Bay Area.

John Arbuckle, district sales executive for Expeditors, a Seattle-based supply chain and logistics company with a location in Reno, said the lack of an intermodal facility is preventing more distribution centers from cropping up in the Truckee Meadows.

“From what I understand, an intermodal system with freight intervals and with multiple modes of freight exchange at a faster rate certainly … would take us to the net level,” Arbuckle said.

While such a system would be a tremendous boost in economic development for Northern Nevada, Arbuckle did note that building such one is an expensive endeavor.

Regardless, Northern Nevada is already on the radar nationally as a distribution mecca.

“Other markets such as the Bay Area have become so expensive that companies have shifted their focus to Reno-Sparks,” Arbuckle said.

One of the main reasons for this is the development of Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center, the 107,000-acre business park about 30 minutes east of Reno-Sparks that has aided in attracting high-tech businesses such as Switch and Tesla Motors to the region.

“Having TRIC has been a real benefit,” McCormick said. “With the infrastructure already in place, whether its water or sewer lines, it makes it easier for companies to set up out there.

McCormick added that such infrastructure of transportation and the development of TRIC has been a big attraction for companies such as Urban Outfitters, a multinational clothing corporation headquartered in Philadelphia that utilizes two facilities for e-commerce and warehouse space in the Stead area of Reno-Sparks.

“It really contributes to a business-friendly climate.”

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