Freight Connections Key to Metro Indy’s Global Competitiveness

Indy Chamber News Archives

New Global Cities Initiative Research on Freight Networks Released Today 

INDIANAPOLIS (November 6, 2014) Today, the Brookings Institution released an analysis of the trade networks that connect the Indianapolis metropolitan area to other regions in the United States and around the world. The report is part of the Global Cities Initiative, a joint project of the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase.

"Mapping Freight: The Highly Concentrated Nature of Goods Trade in the United States" analyzes the value of goods moving between the Indianapolis metro area and its top domestic metropolitan and international trading partners in 2010. These trade flows center around large markets and underscore the importance of a well-functioning national freight network to increase the region's global economic competitiveness.

Metro Indianapolis is part ofthe Global Cities Initiative's Exchange, a network of metropolitan areas working to strengthen their international economic connections and competitiveness, through exports, foreign direct investment and other efforts. The Metro Indianapolis Global Cities Initiative team will use data from this new report to inform their global trade and investment strategies, including the role of national and local freight policies. 

"Metro Indy's central location, at the convergence of major interstate highways, strategically places us among a network of transportation centers for freight," said Michael Huber, president and CEO of the Indy Chamber. "As a result, our region is home to the eighth largest cargo airport in North America which includes the world's second largest FedEx hub. The dedicated networks that support freight are extremely important for our key markets and to the success of area businesses, making the strength of our logistics industry vital to our economic stability."

Major findings from the latest report include the following snapshot of the Indianapolis metro's $149.817 billion freight landscape, highlighting its most significant trade partners and commodities exchanged annually:

Domestic Goods Trade ($129.936 billion):
Top domestic trade partners:

- Chicago/Joliet/Naperville ($9.243 billion)
- Cincinnati/Middletown, OH ($4.646 billion)

- New York City/Northern New Jersey/Long Island ($3.454 billion)

- St. Louis ($3.252 billion)

Top domestic commodities:

- Agricultural products: 14.8% of total metro's dpmestic trade ($12.325 billion)

- Electronics: 9.5% of metro's domestic trade ($12.325 billion)

- Tools/manufacturing products: 9.2% of metro's domestic trade ($11.407 billion)

- Chemicals/plastics: 8.5% of metro's domestic trade ($11.044 billion)

International Goods Trade ($19.881 billion):
Top international trade partners:

- China ($3.226 billion)

- Canada ($2.947 billion)

- Mexico ($1.681 billion)

- Japan ($1.403 billion)

Top international commodities:

- Transportation equipment: 16.7% of metro's international trade ($3.634 billion)

- Pharmaceuticals: 26.1% of metro's international trade ($2.556 billion)

- Precision instruments: 22.1% of metro's international trade ($1.426 billion)

- Machinery: 20.4% of metro's international trade ($2.361 billion)

These patterns are found across the country. Goods trade is highly concentrated among the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the United States. More than 80 percent of all goods traded in the United States-a volume valued at more than $16.2 trillion dollars-either start or end in these metropolitan areas. For this reason an efficient, well-connected infrastructure network is a key component of our national goods exchange.

The new analysis shows that several factors are associated with where these metropolitan trade networks arise. Metropolitan trading partners tend to be geographically proximate, have high concentrations of logistics workers and large populations, and share complementary industries.

Goods trade and exports are an important part of a globally competitive regional economic development strategy, bringing in outside capital and helping local businesses create more jobs. Using this research, local leaders will be able to better understand the importance of priority freight corridors and regional logistics hubs to grow their economies, including the export of goods domestically and abroad.

"Businesses and regions need freight policies that better reflect the hub-and-spoke nature of trade flows," said Adie Tomer, Brookings associate fellow and one of the report's co-authors. "National and local leaders must recognize that investments in priority markets have the potential to benefit all regions ofthe country and keep our metro areas' goods trade competitive in the global market."

The Indy Chamber will release a regional export plan as part of the Global Cities Initiative in first quarter 2015. For more information about this initiative, visit

Read the report in its entirety at: 

About the Global Cities Initiative
Launched in 2012, the Global Cities Initiative is a five-year joint project of Brookings and JPMorgan Chase aimed at helping city and metropolitan leaders become more globally fluent by providing an in-depth and data-driven look at their regional standing on crucial global economic measures, highlighting best policy and practice innovations from around the world, and creating an international network of leaders who ultimately trade and grow together. For more information please visit or

About Indy Chamber
The Indy Chamber is the voice of progress and improvement for the Indianapolis region's business community. With membership of nearly 2,500 businesses representing 230,000 employees in the Indianapolis region, the Indy Chamber is leading the effort to strengthen the business climate, improve the state of education, revitalize neighborhoods and enhance the region's workforce. In 2012, the Indy Chamber merged with Indy Partnership, Develop Indy, and Business Ownership Initiative. For more information about the Indy Chamber, visit

Media Contact:
Ashley Elrod (Indy Chamber) 317.903.9825 or [email protected]
Grace Palmer (Brookings) 202.797.6231 or [email protected]

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