By Abby Laub
LOGISTICS & TRANSPORTATION
A region known for an impressive manufacturing sector, a talented workforce, a great quality of life and an appealing tourism destination is nothing if it can’t move people and goods with ease and affordability. Central Kentucky has prime assets for car travel, commercial trucking, public buses, railcars and aircrafts, and also is home to pedestrian friendly trails to make navigation easy for anyone.
The region is within a day’s drive or two-hour flight from two-thirds of the nation’s population, which is the world’s most important market. Situated at the intersection of Interstates 75 and 64, Lexington is an hour from both DHL Express’ global hub in Northern Kentucky and UPS Worldport in Louisville.
These assets are a reason high-tech logistics startups like Longship can begin operations in Lexington and in a short time experience 225 percent annual growth. Founded in 2015 by Lexington natives Vice President of Sales Will Holton and President Kenny Schomp, Longship uses digital technology to sharpen the logistics game.
“Our technology and resources are top-of-the-line, and our personnel are some of the best in the business,” Schomp said. “We offer Beacon, a load-tracking service that provides live GPS updates to our customers to track all time-sensitive freight in real-time.”
Time sensitive is the name of the game when shipping perishable items, and 70 percent of Longship’s truckloads contain produce or perishables of some kind.
“A lot of other 3PLs (third-party logistics companies) will shy away from this freight because it is so intense to move, with a higher claims exposure than most other forms of freight that ship on a dry van or flatbed,” Schomp said.
The company works with everyone from potato shippers in Idaho, citrus shippers in Florida, watermelon shippers in Georgia and dry customers like mattress, steel and aluminum manufacturers.
Longship’s constantly adapting Load Manager software gives crew members top notch interface to command and control customer freight.
Trucking is a huge slice of the logistics industry, and Schomp said last year the trucking industry hit $676 billion in revenues. He credits this unlimited market potential combined with a talented and hungry workforce in Central Kentucky as part of Longship’s growth.
Trucks rely on roads, and Kentucky, like the rest of the United States, can use help updating its infrastructure. The good news is that in March 2018 six Kentucky community banks agreed to work together as charter members of the specialty $150 million Commonwealth Infrastructure Fund to finance public-private partnerships (P3) in Kentucky.
CIF announced its existence last October with one overriding purpose: allowing Kentucky community banks to compete with huge national institutions that typically finance larger, multimillion-dollar P3 projects. It also could mean better use of assets for private banks and better roads, bridges, buildings and more for public taxpayers.
Growth at Blue Grass Airport
In the air, Blue Grass Airport is arguably one of the easiest airports in the nation to access and one of the most comfortable. It is also uniquely equipped to handle specialized equine travel and, conveniently, is located across the highway from Keeneland Race Course where horses are bought and sold.
The airport boasts numerous nonstop flights to popular vacation destinations, and is spending $35 million to overhaul parking, hangars, baggage systems and other amenities.
In August 2018, Blue Grass Airport celebrated the grand opening of WestLEX, a 12,000-s.f. facility for general (private) aviation aircraft owners. Staff at this facility will provide aircraft fueling services and towing assistance to/from hangars. Amenities include a comfortable lounge, flight planning area and conference room. The project is part of a $5 million investment by the Airport Board to support private aviation at the airport.
A record number of travelers used Blue Grass Airport in 2016. Those 1,309,765 passengers were a 5.5 percent increase over 2015, the third consecutive year the airport has set a record traveler number.
Access to the airport is improved now that a key commercial section of nearby New Circle Road (Ky 4) from Versailles Road to Leestown Road recently underwent a $34.6 million rehab and widening to six lanes. This is central portion of the roadways that connect I-64/I-75 to the limited-access Blue Grass Parkway, which provides an interstate-quality route from Lexington to the key I-65 corridor in Elizabethtown.
Public transportation in Lexington is facilitated by Lextran, which operates a fleet of more than 70 buses, some of which are fully electric, and other vehicles that service about 900 stops in Fayette County. In September 2017, Lextran received a $1 million grant through the Federal Transit Authority’s Low or No Emission Vehicle Program to purchase additional battery-powered buses and on-route charging stations – in coordination with the University of Kentucky’s ‘Blue Goes Green’ program, whose goal is a zero-emissions campus for transportation.
The region also is committed to making itself more bicycle and pedestrian friendly. On the north end of Fayette County, the popular Legacy Trail connects pedestrians from downtown Lexington via 12 miles of neighborhood greenspace and parks all the way to the Kentucky Horse Park. The former two-lane US 68 corridor in Jessamine County has become an almost exclusively bicycle path. Top quality pedestrian assets include longtime staples like Millennium Park in Danville, which includes three-and-a-half miles of trails.
Coming for pedestrians is the newly announced Town Branch Commons in Lexington. Officials just broke ground in July on the nearly $40 million project, a two-mile park and trail system that will stretch through downtown from just west of Rupp Arena to Isaac Murphy Memorial Art Garden on the east side. The trail follows the path of Lexington’s original water source (Town Branch).
1051 Newtown Pike
Lexington, KY 40505
Longship is a third-party logistics (3PL) company specializing in over-the-road truckloads of fresh, frozen, and dry shipments. On-time delivery is their top priority. Through hard work and common sense, Longship has developed into an efficient and trustworthy transportation source for carriers and shippers throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. With steady growth and an advantageous business model, Longship plans to expand and will continue to provide uncompromising service and partnerships to our diverse cliental.
Blue Grass Airport
Capital City Airport
Frankfort – cca.ky.gov
Cynthiana-Harrison County Airport
Georgetown-Scott County Regional Airport
georgetown – scottcountyairport.com
Richmond – madisonairportky.com
Stanton – airnav.com/airport/I50/
Stuart Powell Field
Danville – airnav.com/airport/KDVK
Norfolk Southern Corp.
R.J. Corman Railroad Group
Nicholasville – rjcorman.com