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Freight distrubtion system outlined for Arizona

An economic development group has released findings that outline Arizona’s opportunities to expand freight distribution from Mexican sea ports. As KJZZ's Peter O’Dowd reports, it’s an early step in the bid to elevate Arizona’s role as a major trade-distribution center.

PETER O’DOWD: State leaders and economists acknowledge Arizona is late to the game. Texas and California have built robust industries that rely on bringing goods in from foreign markets for distribution in the U.S. Now the state is even watching its smaller neighbor, New Mexico, outpace Arizona in some sectors of cross-border trade. Tim Strow is with the Maricopa Association of Governments, the group that released Tuesday’s freight study.

TIM STROW: Freight transportation has not been on the number one item list for Arizona. Places like Texas, they have several more points of entry to Mexico than we do. They have been working on plans for 20 years.

O’DOWD: To find Arizona’s place in the global supply chain, the study recommends creating a freight development zone through Central Arizona. A proposed hub in Tucson would handle goods from Mexican seaports in Guaymas, Mazatlan and places further south. Manufacturing and distribution centers in the Phoenix area would take advantage of skilled labor and transportation infrastructure to further connect Arizona with the rest of the world. Darren Henderson works for Parsons Brinckerhoff, a consultant hired conduct the study.

DARREN HENDERSON: We are strategically located on the doorstep of Las Vegas, of Southern California, of San Diego. So if they’re looking to bring goods in from Mexico through the gulf coast ports, we are a natural point for bringing those things together, consolidating them and packing for the final destination.

O’DOWD: The trick now is attracting developers to what could be a multi-billion dollar project and getting cities and towns across the state to cooperate. Henderson says one entity needs to quarterback a regional effort and lead it forward.