Reno thriving as a shipping mecca for logistics industry

RENO, Nev. — To legions of kids around the world, Santa Claus arrives on Christmas Eve.

For the players who make northern Nevada’s logistics and distribution sector go ’round, however, Old Saint Nick arrives much earlier.

“Here in the airport, Santa Claus comes every night for three to four weeks straight before Christmas,” said Brian Kulpin, spokesman for the Reno-Tahoe International Airport. “We get excited when we see big aircraft coming in that are bigger than the ones we typically see.”

Last year, 156.4 million pounds of cargo came through Reno’s airport, an all-time record for the facility.

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The airport isn’t the only player in the region that is seeing its shipping traffic take off. An improving economy combined with the increasing adoption of e-commerce is helping fuel an increase in the number of new warehouses and distribution centers in the area since the recession. Add a growing manufacturing base that produces items ranging from cheese and pet food to electric batteries, and northern Nevada continues its transformation as a key player in the storage and transportation of goods to and from the western United States.

Did you recently order coconut oil from natural retailer Thrive Market? If you live on the West Coast, it’s highly likely that it came from the company’s distribution center located east of Reno-Sparks.

Have you bought an oversized item from Amazon in the last couple of years? There’s a good chance the product came from Amazon’s Reno facility, which specializes in large and bulk goods and has been described as a mini-city.

That paperback copy of “Murder on the Orient Express” from Barnes & Noble? The Reno warehouse is the company’s only major distribution center in the western U.S. and one of only two in the country in addition to the retailer’s New Jersey facility.

With the worst recession in the region’s history still fresh in some people’s minds, northern Nevada’s growing list of logistics operations is part of the area’s ongoing success story of recovery and remarkable growth. Northern Nevada saw its number of logistics firms grow from 486 in 2009 to 531 in 2015, an increase of more than 9 percent, according to the Center for Applied Logistics Management at Truckee Meadows Community College.

The facilities stretch across the region from Reno-Sparks and Carson City all the way to…

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