DeCesare: u201cE-commerce sales are expected to reach $262 billion nationally this year.u201d

LOS ANGELES—While many are concerned about the potential competition for the Long Beach and Los Angeles Ports from the widening of the Panama Canal, Geraldine Knatz, former executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, says we should be looking north. The ports in British Columbia are attracting several ship carrying goods to Middle America, Katz explained at the recent USC Gould Real Estate Law and Business Forum on the Global Logistics, e-Commerce and Transportation Infrastructure panel. Also speaking on the panel were Jon DeCesare, president of World Class Logistics Consulting Inc.; Franc J. Pigna, managing director at Aegir Port Property Advisors; and moderator William S. Small of Blank Rome LLP.

According to Knatz, Canadian ports are carrying items by rail through British Columbia down to Middle America, and they have created a quick and efficient system. “Speed to market is a real advantage,” she says. This could be a concern, in her opinion, than the widening of the Panama Canal, which, once complete, could take shippers 7-10 days longer than to go to L.A. or Long Beach and move the items by rail. DeCesare agrees, noting that saving one day of shipping can potentially skim millions off the bottom line for these larger shipping companies. In addition to our neighbors to the north, Knatz also notes the multi-billion dollar deep-water port proposed outside of Ensenada, Mexico, as a potential big competitor to the ports of L.A. and Long Beach.

Warehouse space and availability is also key to the success of the ports, according to DeCesare. He explains that it is important to choose warehouse space in “tested areas to mitigate risks.” The most recent trend in industrial warehouses is Omni-channel facilities that can be positioned for multiple outlets and can accommodate very fast shipping. “E-commerce sales are expected to reach $262 billion nationally this year,” he says, adding that powerhouses like Amazon now have warehouses within 35 miles of major cities.

The annual USC Gould Real Estate Law and Business Forum covers everything from development to finance as well as the latest major projects. An earlier panel discussed the development possibilities for the L.A. River, and its potential of being transformed into Los Angeles’ Central Park.