E. & J. Gallo Winery’s decision to invest $423 million in Chester County for the company’s first production and distribution facility outside its California home base is a major commitment that also signals opportunity for other new and expanding companies in the I-77 Corridor.
The world’s largest winery and spirits company said the new location will help it better serve East Coast markets while taking advantage of proximity to the Port of Charleston for its growing import and export business. The Gallo project also underlines the importance of logistics and location, a reality that has become abundantly clear in the worldwide supply chain disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Companies large and small are working to respond. One result is the shift for many from a “just in time” philosophy of inventory and production management to a “just in case” posture: keeping critical inventory on hand or nearby instead of relying on timely shipments from distant locations.
E-commerce also has been a huge driver in this change, headlined by Amazon’s expansion of a network of massive distribution centers across the country and the surging demand for smaller, last-mile facilities. Then there’s a growing interest in establishing manufacturing sites with smaller footprints than in the past. A good example of that is a 193,000-square-foot spec building that the British firm Arrival will use to produce electric buses in a Rock Hill industrial park.
All this has resulted in unprecedented demand for warehouse and other industrial space. Record-low vacancies and record-high rental rates create opportunity for developers and owners of such properties, both for their own operations and to serve other companies.
One problem in meeting this demand for diverse industrial space is available land. This is not an issue in the I-77 corridor through Richland, Fairfield, Chester, Lancaster and York counties. Developable sites with the right infrastructure – water, sewer, electricity, and access to highways, rail, air transport and seaports – are readily available here. There also may well be an existing building to meet a company’s needs.
With such infrastructure in place, many operations can be up and running relatively quickly. Gallo, for instance, announced its Chester County plans last June and plans to complete the first phase by this October. That’s from the ground up.
We look forward to working with new and existing partners on leveraging your own opportunities through 2022 and beyond.