The logistics industry in central Ohio scored a major victory recently, as the Ohio Board of Building Standards changed its originally proposed regulations limiting exit distances in warehouses and distribution facilities. This revision allows the logistics industry in the state and in the Columbus Region, specifically, to remain competitive in their operations.
The Columbus Chamber and its Columbus Region Logistics Council (CRLC) were key participants in the effort to revise the standards, which sought to reduce the minimum permissible distance to an exit in warehouses and distribution facilities from 400 feet to 250 feet.‘If approved as written, warehouses greater than 500 feet across would not have been possible in Ohio without a variance under the new building code. The restriction would have hindered the logistics industry’s growth potential in the state, including limiting the number and type of warehousing and distribution facilities attracted to Ohio. The Columbus Partnership and Columbus2020! also voiced opposition.
Once these concerns were shared with the Board of Building Standards and the Ohio Department of Commerce, a team of experts from state government and the Chamber worked quickly on crafting a revision to the proposed rule.
‘As a region, central Ohio has long been recognized at the national and even international level as an ideal logistics hub, thanks in part to the excellent transportation infrastructure running through the city and its single-day’s-drive proximity to half of the U.S. population and manufacturing capacity,’ said Steve Tugend, chair of the government relations practice at Kegler, Brown, Hill and Ritter, who testified on behalf of the Chamber and CRLC. ‘This revision will allow Ohio, and the Columbus Region, to remain a competitive location to host and grow its logistics, warehousing, and distribution industries.’
Logistics-related companies employ more than 110,000 people in central Ohio, accounting for 14.8 percent of the region’s private-sector workforce. Logistics-related employment in the Columbus area is up 15.8 percent over the last decade, compared to a nationwide decline of 4.3 percent. And in the Columbus region, average wages for logistics-related positions are 13.5 percent higher than other sectors, adjusting for skill level. Recent developments like the Rickenbacker Intermodal Terminal have further strengthened the region’s logistical capabilities, helping to cement long-term growth and employment potential.
‘‘We’re pleased that the logistics industry, which has been a key driver in the Columbus Region, will have the flexibility to grow existing operations and attract new warehousing and distribution companies,’ said Michael Dalby, president and CEO of the Columbus Chamber. ‘Logistics employment makes up a sizeable chunk of the region’s private-sector workforce, boasting considerably higher wages than sectors with comparable training. We have a stake in ensuring that the industry continues to thrive in central Ohio.’
Regarding businesses relocating or setting up new operations in Ohio, the state’s optimal tax system provides even more incentive. According to a recent report from the Ohio Department of Development’s Policy Research and Strategic Planning Office, Ohio offers the lowest capital investment tax rate in the Midwest region of the United States, and the lowest per capita state tax burden among its neighboring states. Because there are no taxes on gross receipts to sales made and/or shipped outside of the state, logistics/distribution companies in Ohio can easily do business across state lines without added costs.