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Inner City Development Through International Logistics

Written by Scott G. Frederick, Vice President of Marketing, Logistics Plus Inc.

Logistics Plus Inc. is a small but growing company in the $700 billion global logistics industry.  The company has continued to grow since it appeared on the 2007 Inner City 100 list: just last year Logistics Plus was recognized by Inc. magazine as one of the fastest-growing transportation and logistics companies in the United States. The company was founded in 1996 by Erie, Pennsylvania entrepreneur Jim Berlin, and today it has over 350 employees in 36 offices and 20 countries around the world.

Despite international success, Berlin has not forgotten his roots in northwestern PA and continues to drive local community development. In 2004, he purchased the historic Union Station in downtown Erie and established it as the firm’s global headquarters (left image in photo above). In his quest to create a diverse and vibrant inner city community, he made additional retail space available in the building which now houses a restaurant, wine room, and hair salon, among other businesses. Just a year ago, Berlin acquired the old ‘Skinner Engine Warehouse’ – now the home to an airsoft recreational business and other business tenants.

Downtown Erie, PA– once a vibrant hub for manufacturing and transportation in the Midwest – was hit hard during the past two U.S. economic recessions. Hard times simply renewed Berlin’s commitment to Erie. “We thought this was a cool place to be; it fit our style, our character, and the logistics angle,” Berlin says. “I always said if downtown Erie comes back, I’ll look like a genius, but at the time I bought the building, I looked like the dumbest guy in town. I find it’s hard to get people in Erie excited about Erie. It seems we have an inferiority complex with people saying, ‘Erie’s not that bad.’ Why not just go out and make it something? Why be apologetic about it? Make something happen.”

The enthusiasm Berlin has for Erie can also be seen in the various paintings and murals he has commissioned, including ‘welcome to Erie’ messages on the city’s Peach Street and Sassafras Street bridges, and a large mural on a Bayfront warehouse depicting the historic ‘Battle of Lake Erie’ to commemorate Erie’s proud heritage (right image in photo above). The mural includes the copy ‘DON’T GIVE UP THE SHIPMENT,’ which is a logistical wink to the iconic “Don’t give up the ship” motto sewn on the flag adopted by the American fleet prior to the famous battle.

Still, Berlin’s inner city development efforts would not be possible if it weren’t for his successful logistics and supply chain management business. At the heart of that business are very talented professionals that help companies around the world with project cargo and project management, import/export services, air and ocean freight forwarding, warehousing and distribution, global trade compliance services, LTL and truckload transportation, rail and intermodal services, and logistics and technology solutions. “We consider ourselves ‘a solutions company’ first and foremost with a reputation for handling all aspects of logistics from cradle-to-grave,” says Berlin.

As Logistics Plus nears its 20th anniversary, what lies ahead for the company and the community in which it resides? “I always joke that I don’t know for sure what’s going to happen today, no less a year or two from now, but our overall motto is to grow, and we will continue to do that because of our talent, our energy, our passion and our continued record of success,” says Berlin. “Growth equals opportunity – and more fun – so that is our mantra.” Growth and success are also the cornerstones of Mr. Berlin’s development efforts in downtown Erie. “I believe that now we are beginning to see a renaissance take hold, and I do predict that a couple of years from now, the Union Station Square neighborhood will be a vibrant community — a long way from where it was when we first got here.”

About Logistics Plus Inc.

Logistics Plus Inc. provides freight management, global logistics, and business solutions through a worldwide network of talented and caring professionals. Founded in Erie, PA by local entrepreneur Jim Berlin nearly 20 years ago, Logistics Plus has been repeatedly recognized as one of the fastest-growing transportation and logistics companies in the country. With a strong passion for excellence, its 350+ employees put the “plus” in logistics by doing the extra little things needed to ensure its customers’ success. For more information, visit http://www.logisticsplus.net or follow @LogisticsPlus on Twitter.

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