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From the September Issue


Surveying the Landscape

Quick updates on selected site certification programs.

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Graphs courtesy of UNCTAD

It’s e-commerce week at UNCTAD, which means new data are available showing the spike in e-commerce caused by the global pandemic did not flag in 2021, with online sales “increasing markedly in value, despite the easing of restrictions in many countries.” The average share of internet users who made purchases online increased from 53% before the pandemic (2019) to 60% following the onset of the pandemic (2020/21), across 66 countries with statistics available. The greatest rises occurred in several developing countries.

“In the United Arab Emirates, the share of internet users who shopped online more than doubled, from 27% in 2019 to 63% in 2020,” says UNCTAD. “In Bahrain the share tripled, reaching 45% in 2020, and in Uzbekistan it rose from 4% in 2018 to 11% in 2020. In Thailand, which already had a relatively high uptake prior to the pandemic, a 16-percentage-point increase meant that for the first time more than half of internet users (56%) shopped online in 2020. Among developed countries, the greatest increases were seen in Greece (up 18 percentage points), Ireland, Hungary and Romania (each 15 percentage points). Of the 66 countries covered, online shopping remains the lowest in El Salvador (1% of internet users), Azerbaijan (5%), Uzbekistan (11%) and Colombia (17%),” due in part to a lack of digital infrastructure.

The analysis from UNCTAD also points out that while we think all e-commerce is from Amazon, there are plenty of other companies with their fair share of transactions. As the graph below illustrates, China’s Alibaba (helped by its logistics arm Cainiao) leads the way. Among projects from that company tracked by the Conway Projects Database over the past five years are a $1.5 billion complex in Hong Kong and other warehouses in the UAE, South Korea and Russia, as well as data centers in Indonesia, London, Mumbai and Sepang, Malaysia. The most recent data center location is in Seoul, South Korea, where Alibaba Cloud, like its big tech brethren, is promulgating tech training alongside online sales. “To ensure the highest cyber protection and compliance standards, Alibaba Cloud has more than 80 security and compliance accreditations worldwide,” the company noted. “With our latest facility in Korea,” said Stone Ni, country lead of South Korea, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence, “Alibaba Cloud aims to train at least 2,000 IT professionals in this fiscal year, so the shortage of talents don’t hinder the innovation of our customers.”

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Graphs courtesy of UNCTAD




Sites in Demand

Kentucky programs prepare sites for influx of business locations.

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There are plenty of everyday doubts about the transition to electric vehicles: the plunder of the planet for a new set of raw materials other than oil; the practicality of a limited travel radius; the availability of enough power when we have all these data centers to operate for our e-commerce (JK, folks). This excellent map from ESRI, however, shows one aspect that is progressing apace: The national network of charging stations near Interstates is beginning to fill in.




Six Superlatives

A half-dozen ways that Oregon’s boundless, natural gifts inspire body and spirit.

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As documented by Commercial Observer and The Real Deal based on data in a CBRE report, Amazon has signed its biggest lease ever, for 4.1 million sq. ft., in a market where Prologis just happens to be developing a 4.1-million-sq.-ft. facility in Merrill Commerce Center, a park expected to host more than 7 million sq. ft. of warehouse space and a 1.2-million-sq.-ft. business park. Ontario in San Bernardino County is known for its logistics operations, including another recent large deal with Home Depot.

Source: Conway Analytics


Specialty engineered suspensions company Link Manufacturing in late March broke ground on a new manufacturing and training facility, Plant 4, adjacent to Plant 3 on the company’s campus in Sioux Center, Iowa, located just north of the ice cream capital of Le Mars in northwest Iowa. “Sioux Center is located near the geographic center of the country and keeps Link within easy reach of major transportation routes and thus the OEMs and secondary markets we serve,” said Jim Huls, president of the 41-year-old company. “Sioux Center has been good for Link and we believe that Link has been good for Sioux Center. Our roots are here and our town, our company and our customers all benefit from our Northwest Iowa values and work ethic.” The company also operates a site in Nisku, Alberta, Canada.

Source: Conway Analytics



Ford’s Rouge Electric Vehicle Center is the first Ford plant without traditional in-floor conveyor lines, instead using robotic Autonomous Guided Vehicles to move F-150 Lightning trucks from one workstation to another.
Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Co.

On Tuesday at its historic Rouge Complex in Dearborn, Michigan, Ford launched production of the electric F-150 pickup. “Today we celebrate the Model T moment for the 21st Century at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center,” said Ford Executive Chair Bill Ford. “The Rouge is where Ford perfected the moving assembly line, making it a fitting backdrop as we make history again.” Ford says it has invested a total of $950 million and created 750 jobs at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center. “Ford’s investment in Michigan for F-150 Lightning alone now totals more than $1 billion,” the company explained, “with 1,700 recently created jobs spread among five Ford plants in the state, including Van Dyke Electric Powertrain Center, where Lightning electric motors and electric transaxles are assembled, and Rawsonville Components Plant, where Lightning batteries are assembled.”