GLDPartners Ports and Terminals Practice Leader Brendan Dugan led a strategic visioning session last week on the topic of inland ports at the TIACA/Multimodal meeting in Toronto. Entitled “Are Inland Ports in North America Overhyped or Are They the Next Big Thing?”, Brendan oversaw an in-depth conversation with experts representing the rail, investor/developer, logistics terminal operator, seaport perspective.

Brendan engaged the panel’s expertise about the realities of inland logistics assets and the variation between quite different port-inland logistics propositions including the St Lawrence Seaway, the US Southeast, California and the Canadian West Coast. Michael Murphy talked about how Centerpoint’s focus has shifted to assets that are in larger markets and with seaport connectivity. Mark Hendrickson spoke about GLDPartners’ P3 project with Merced County to develop a 2000-acre quadrimodal inland port in the geographic center of California with direct long-haul rail connectivity and with the Port of Los Angeles as a partner. The Mid-California International Trade District is slated for 8M sf of development and will include a self-contained rail district and a global automotive production and testing complex for autonomous vehicles. There are many who are seeing this project as a lightning rod to evolve West Coast logistics with an integrated rail/truck proposition for the heavy north-south cargo routes in California. Michael Inman reviewed the Port of Prince Rupert’s expansion and plans for new infrastructure and expanded cargo capacity. Dan Bresolin from CN Rail described the evolution and realities of intermodal rail and how key sites could play into shorter transit distances and smaller hubs. Jonathan Lamb of Duluth Cargo Connect explained the creative public-private business relationship between his company and the Port of Duluth and the potential of the Great Lakes and St Lawrence Seaway system for bulk and breakbulk cargo, and to a lesser extent for specialized containerized cargo services.

In the end, the panel agreed that though there is clearly some over-excitement about inland ports in North America but they concluded that there are definitely opportunities to develop integrated logistics and production hubs at key locations in North America.


GLDPartners is an international investment and advisory firm that specializes in revenue and infrastructure development projects at and around high-opportunity airports, seaports and strategic trade and logistics hubs. The firm also supports global manufacturers and distribution operations with network design strategy and facility location analytics. GLDPartners’ clients and market perspective is global and the firm is headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, with offices in New York, Washington DC, Wisconsin and in the UK.