Memphis has earned its reputation as “America’s Distribution Center”.

With its natural geographic advantage, its deep pool of skilled logistics workers, and its intermodal edge, our core competency in Memphis is distribution and logistics. Home of the world headquarters and hub of shipping powerhouse FedEx, over 400 trucking companies and major operations of UPS and USPS, Memphis is uniquely positioned to provide the most cost effective distribution and logistics services in the country.

Did you know:

  • Access to the world through the FedEx Express world SuperHUB.
  • Memphis' workforce has a higher percentage of logistics workers than any other metropolitan area in the country
  • Five class-one railroads offer service in Memphis.

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America's Aerotropolis Real Estate Workforce
Top Logistics and Distribution Operations Education and Innovation  

America's Aerotropolis

Memphis has a world class transportation infrastructure and is known around the world as one of the most reliable and cost-effective locations for a company to operate 24 hours a day for 365 days per year and has built its reputation on its robust infrastructure in all four modes of transportation: runway, road, rail, and river. Learn more about Memphis: America's Aerotropolis.

World’s Busiest Air Cargo Airports – 2015*

Rank Airport Total Cargo
(Metric tons)
Percent Change
1 Hong Kong (HKG) 4,422,227 0.2
2 Memphis, TN (MEM) 4,290,633 0.8
3 Shanghai (PVG) 3,273,732 2.9
4 Anchorage, AK (ANC) 2,624,312 5.3
5 Incheon (ICN) 2,595,674 1.5
6 Dubai (DXB) 2,505,507 4.5
7 Louisville, KY (SDF) 2,350,656 2.5
8 Tokyo (NRT) 2,122,314 -0.5
9 Frankfurt (FRA) 2,076,734 -2.6
10 Taipei (TPE) 2,025,291 -3.0

Source: Airports Council International, 2015 (* preliminary)

Freight Originating in Memphis MSA (TN only), 2015 YTD

Mode Value
($ millions)
Truck $65,279.20
Multiple Modes & Mail $14,389.83
Air (including truck-air) $578.61
Rail $1,736.73
Water $829.54
Pipeline $3,503.74

Source: Center for Transportation Analysis, Freight Analysis Framework Data Tabulation Tool

Markets Served through Overnight Truck Service, Metro Comparison

City Total Metro Markets Served Top 100 Metro Markets Served
Memphis 152 40
St. Louis 146 38
Chicago 139 38
Kansas City 109 24
Dallas 71 20
  1. Source: CTSI


Major Logistics and Distribution Operations

FedEx Corporation moved their headquarters from Little Rock to Memphis in 1973.  Since then, FedEx has grown to a family of companies, providing supply chain and logistics solutions, in addition to overnight delivery, to companies worldwide. Proximity to the FedEx World Hub, and some of the latest drop-off times for overnight delivery in the country, has drawn several top logistics and distribution operations to Memphis.
Target Corporation will be investing on a new e-commerce distribution Center in Southeast Memphis that will create about 462 new jobs, becoming operational by mid-2015. Target Corp. is an American 500 Fortune Company (36th as of 2014 rankings) headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Target is the 3rd largest discount retailer in the United States operates 1,916 stores in the United States and employs more than 300,000 in the United States and Canada.
Nike’s three local distribution facilities in Memphis serve as the company’s main retail and wholesale distribution operation for North America.  In 2012, Nike announced a $301 million expansion of their Northridge facility, and a $25 million upgrade of their Shelby Drive facility, adding 250 new jobs. Nike is also completing a $276 million expansion of its distribution center by 1.8 million square feet, the addition is scheduled for completition in June 2015.

Other Major  Logistics and Distribution Operations (based on sq ft)

  • Nike: 4,600,000 sf
  • Technicolor: 4,300,000 sf
  • XPO Logistics Supply Chain: 2,950,000
  • Williams-Sonoma: 2,735,300 sf
  • Cotton Trade Warehouse: 2,000,000 sf
  • Brother International Corporation: 1,500,000 sf
  • McKensson Corp: 1,500,000 sf
  • Hamilton Beach Brands: 1,300,000 sf
  • Kaz USA: 1,300,000 sf
  • Helen of Troy: 1,200,000 sf
  • Ford Motor Company: 1,069,800 sf

Largest Trucking Companies (based on FTE)

  • Ozark Motor Lines: 807 employees
  • YRC Freight: 550 employees
  • FedEx Freight: 540 employees
  • IMC Companies: 500 employees
  • Old Dominion Freight Lines: 450 employees
  • UPS Freight: 427 employees
  • Swift Transportation: 361 employees
  • JNJ Express: 363 employees
  • Intermodal Cartage Co. Inc.: 357 employees
  • Knight Transportation: 350 employees
  • Trans-Carriers Inc.: 294 employees
Sources: 2016 Memphis Business Journal Book of Lists 

Class 1 Railroads Serving Memphis

Union Pacific (UP) operates a full service intermodal yard in West Memphis, AR and Memphis, is the easternmost city in the Union Pacific network. There, UP interchanges traffic with eastern railroads. Union Pacific ships cotton, lumber, processed foods, clothing and electrical machinery to, and from, Memphis. In addition, Union Pacific owns and operates the Harahan Bridge, which stretches nearly 5,000 feet across the Mississippi River, connecting the Western half of the US to Memphis.

BNSF Railway (BNSF) completed an expansion to its Tennessee Yard along Highway 78 in 209. Capacity at the yard was expanded to 1,000,000 container lifts per year from 250,000. The yard also has parking for more than 6,000 trucks, an automated inventory tracking system, six (6)-7500’ intermodal tracks, five (5) loading cranes, and three (3) nine-story stacking cranes that are hailed as some the tallest in the United States.

Norfolk Southern (NS) has three (3) intermodal tracks available, stacking capabilities, on load and off load services, open 7 days per week.  The recently completed 570 acre intermodal facility in Rossville, TN can handle more 200,000 trucks annually and is part of a planned mixed use development.

Canadian National Railroad (CN) completed a $100 million expansion to the Harrison Yard located within President’s Island near downtown Memphis in 2009. These upgrades make the Harrison Yard CN's second largest classification yard in the United States. It has a capacity of more than 3,100 freight cars with 45 tracks in the classification yard. It also has 12 receiving and departure tracks ranging in length from 5,000 to 10,000 feet. The revised operation can handle 35 or more freight trains per day. The yard is also shared by CSX.

CSX Corporation (CSX) also operates intermodal and automobile distribution terminals in Memphis.


Real Estate

With more than 15 million square feet of available warehouse space, and among the nation’s lowest lease rates, companies can easily find a space that will meet their needs in Memphis.  The Greater Memphis Chamber can also assist in finding the right piece of land to build distribution or warehouse facilities.  To search for properties, click here.

Construction Cost Comparison

  1. City
    Average Construction Cost,
    100,000 sq ft. Warehouse
    National Average $8,689,418
    St. Louis, MO $8,794,858
    Louisville, KY $7,930,404
    Atlanta, GA $7,820,528
    Nashville, TN $7,697,167
    Memphis, TN $7,733,403

Source: RSMeans 2016 Estimates


Education and Innovation

Since its founding in 1971, FedEx has revolutionized the logistics industry.  Today, Memphis remains at the forefront of logistics innovation and education.  The educational institutions in Memphis offer logistics professionals quality educational opportunities and lead the way in research and innovation. Training programs range from truck driving licensure to advanced degrees in supply chain management.
In response to local and national industry needs Christian Brothers University (CBU) offers a Packing Program since 2001, within the School of Engineering since fall of 2012. They have The Packing Lab with almost $300,000 invested on packing equipment, and $400,000 in the Polymer Lab, Solid Mechanics Lab, and Manufacturing Lab. The Paking Lab is the only lab in an academic setting in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Missisippi.

The Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology(TCAT) offers different full-time technical programs such as Aircraft Mechanics, Automotive Technology, Avionics Maintenance Technology, among others. TCAT holds membership in the Accrediting Commission of the Council on Occupational Education(COE).

The University of Memphis Intermodal Freight Transportation Institute (IFTI) is an interdisciplinary research center that conducts research of intermodal freight transportation and offers a range of multidisciplinary research curricular. 

For more information or to search for specific programs, visit the Training and Aerotropolis Career Training and Education pages.



Memphis Metro Wages by Occupation

Average Hourly Wage
Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers
Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers
Stock Clerks and Order Fillers
Packers and Packagers
 Shipping and Receiving Clerks
Industrial Truck and Tractor Operators
Light Truck or Delivery Services Drivers 5,130 $15.70
First-Line Supervisors of Helpers, Laborers and Material Movers
First-Line Supervisors of Transportation and Material-Moving Machine and Vehicle Operators
Industrial Engineers
Cleaners of Vehicles and Equipment
Management Analysts 1,370 $34.91
Transportation, Storage and Distribution Managers 1,340 $38.87
Machine Feeders and Offbearers 150 $14.29
Logisticians 590 $30.74
Crane and Tower Operators 120 $22.31

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics May 2015