Charlotte's Strategic Location

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CHARLOTTE'S WELL-KNOWN PRO-BUSINESS environment is evident in its ability to move people and products efficiently and conveniently throughout the world. Service is available by air, rail, land, inland port and direct water access. Factor in geographic location, amenable climate, convenience to major U.S. markets, a Foreign Trade Zone, U.S. Customs and Inland Port status, and it becomes clear that Charlotte offers advantages that make business easier to conduct and more profitable.

Of the nation’s 51 metropolitan markets with more than 1 million in population, 34 are located in these eastern states, which are also home to more than 58 percent of the country’s population. Twenty-nine of these 34 markets lie within a 650-mile radius of Charlotte and can easily be reached by 24 hour truck delivery or two hours flight time. In fact, Charlotte remains the only major distribution center midway between the Northeast, Midwest and Florida markets.

Of the major distribution centers in the Southeast, Charlotte and Atlanta each have more than 7 million people living within a 100 mile radius. This radius population well exceeds Miami’s 6 million and the 2.6 million around Memphis. Even when considering a 650-mile radius, Charlotte is the clear leader.

Charlotte’s balanced transportation infrastructure includes one of the nation’s major, advanced airport facilities; a significant trucking industry and interstate highway access to key southeastern seaports; direct rail; intermodal shipping; and import/export facilitation and other support services.

Charlotte populationExceptional Air Service
Air service in and out of Charlotte Douglas International (CLT) Airport is exceptional. CLT is the 11th largest airport in the nation based on passenger totals. It is also the 25th largest airport worldwide based on passenger totals and sixth in the world for total operations. Serving as the second-largest largest hub for the world’s largest airline, CLT acts as Charlotte’s gateway to the entire world.

CLT averages 703 daily departures on 9 major airlines and 14 regional carriers. These flights provide non-stop service to 171 cities. More than 41 million passengers traveled through CLT’s 1.8 million-square-foot terminal in 2012. To serve both the business and leisure traveler, Charlotte’s airport offers five concourses with 95 airline gates. This includes 46 domestic, 13 international and 26 regional gates. Partially due to this, 87 percent of flights leave CLT on time, compared to 86 percent nationally.

Charlotte is within 650 miles of most of the major U.S. markets. This location, midway along the East Coast, makes air travel to all major cities more cost and time efficient than any other Southeastern airport. CLT boards more passengers annually than any other airport in the Carolinas. Many of those passengers are served by US Airways, the fifth largest airline in the United States, which employs more than 7,000 people at its largest hub in Charlotte. Corporate and private aircraft can find top-notch service at Wilson Air Center, Charlotte’s fixed base operator, which accounts for approximately 24,400 of CLT’s more than 500,000 annual operations.

CLT passenger enplanementsExcellent Air Freight Service
Charlotte serves its active business community with excellent air freight service. Charlotte Douglas ranked 33rd nationwide in 2011 for air cargo – more than 137,900 tons were carried by approximately 20 cargo carriers. CLT has approximately 500,000 square feet of warehouse space in the Charlotte Air Cargo Center and offers both domestic freight and international air freight services to and from Europe, the Middle East, the Far East, South America and Mexico. The Charlotte Air Cargo Center is further strengthened by more than 70 freight forwarders, custom house brokers and professional international service providers.

Major Trucking Industry
Trucking is one of the Charlotte region’s major industries, moving products and materials nationwide. North Carolina is currently the 16th largest trucking center, while Charlotte employs nearly 20 percent of the state’s work force in the industry. Located here are 329 trucking companies and 28,688 transportation employees, including truckers.

Service is provided by the best in the field. Many of the nation’s top trucking companies have locations in Charlotte. These companies provide all types of motor transport services: freight, liquid or dry bulk; heavy hauling; furniture moving; and container shipping. Area businesses can reap additional benefits from the trucking industry. Charlotte provides “break-bulk” point, which results in cost and time savings.


truck delivery timesConvenient Highways
Charlotte is served by a highly efficient highway system. Interstates 77 and 85 join urban centers and manufacturing belts in the Northeast, Southwest and Midwest. Convenient I-40 offers an important east/west link. In addition, easy access is available on U.S. routes 74, 29 and 21.

North Carolina is committed to this high-level transportation system.  Both state and regional agencies are working to continue to upgrade roadways to meet future needs. There is also excellent bus service in Charlotte. Greyhound and Trailways provide area travelers with the option of traveling by bus with more than 350 weekly arrivals and departures.

Efficient Local Area Transit
The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) has 20 light rail vehicles and 323 buses with 73 bus routes to get residents where they need to go.  In 2012, CATS provided 26.5 million passenger trips. In addition to traditional bus service, CATS offers the Gold Rush circulator service, a free public transit system within Center City.  Charlotte’s light rail system, LYNX, began operations in 2007.  An extension of the LYNX Blue Line to the UNC Charlotte campus in the university area recently received funding and is scheduled to be completed by 2017.  Upon completion, the LYNX Blue Line will allow almost 20 miles of cross-county travel in a total of 47 minutes. Each day, more than 66,700 people ride the CATS system.

Major Rail Systems
The Charlotte region is at the center of the largest consolidated rail system in the country. Two major rail systems, Norfolk Southern Railway and CSX Transportation, link 43,200 track miles of rail to 23 states, D.C. and Canada. They bring approximately 300 trains through Charlotte weekly. Additionally, Amtrak in Charlotte provides passenger lines traveling north and south with connections to east/west lines, providing access to most of the United States.

Norfolk Southern’s $50 million computerized yard can classify up to 28,000 cars a day. Rail also provides piggyback facilities working with trucking capabilities in the city.  The groundbreaking has begun on a new $92 million intermodal facility at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.  The facility will place a 200-acre intermodal yard between the airport runways.  It is expected to be completed in late 2013.

Charlotte population comparisonEfficient Water Connections
Charlotte is home to one of two inland intermodal terminals owned and operated by the North Carolina State Ports Authority. Customers realize an inland transportation cost savings by using the intermodal port. Containers moving between the terminal and Wilmington are moved either as part of a matched load or through the N.C. State Ports Authority’s sprint truck service. With either method, the shipper is subject to one-way trip charges only.

The Carolina ports are worldwide gateways for importers and exporters, linking the U.S. to distant locations, including northern Europe, the Far East, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, Africa, South America and Australia. An added benefit — Port of Entry and Inland Port designation — provides speedier international shipping through U.S. customs.

Impressive Support Facilities
Charlotte’s long history as a transportation and distribution hub has helped to develop strong ancillary support services. Services include: brokers, an off-line railroad sales office, steamship line reps, custom-house brokers, freight consolidators, public warehouses, freight billing agents and a foreign trade zone. The unique feature of Charlotte’s foreign trade zone is a choice of storage location in either North or South Carolina.

With exceptional air cargo and trucking facilities, the inland port status, U.S. Customs, the foreign trade zone, an impressive highway system and exceptional rail service, Charlotte provides a top-of-the-line connection for moving products and materials efficiently and conveniently throughout the world.


Charlotte distribution radius