- THE MAGAZINE
Kudos to Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH), along with Ron DeBarr and Doug Sibila, for the effort to address transportation and logistics issues.
Rep. Bob Gibbs held a Transportation Summit in his home constituency on March 27th to listen to the businesses, public officials and transportation industry as they expressed their priorities and concerns. The effort was hosted by Malone University and coordinated by the Northeast Ohio Trade and Economic Consortium’s Ron DeBarr and clearly reflects some of the energy of Doug Sibila, CEO of Peoples Services and politically active member of the Ohio Trucking Association and International Warehouse Logistics Association.
The cross section of 31 public and private sector participants was intended to bring regional issues into focus, no doubt with an eye to extrapolating those priorities to the country as a whole once Rep. Gibbs returned to Washington and his Transportation and Infrastructure Committee assignment.
He got that regional focus, along with a broader perspective provided by participants such as William Friedman, CEO of the Port of Cleveland. Like many of the supply chain industry representatives, Friedman added insights from other assignments he has had across the country and a long history in a global market.
Gibbs noted that while information from national groups and national studies are helpful, hearing from the local community was “most valuable.”
Following the Summit, Gibbs concluded the overarching theme that resonated among participants is that improving Ohio’s transportation system requires involvement and coordination amongst every mode of transportation and each level of government.
He added that the general consensus was that more often than not, the federal government is causing more problems than it is solving. Individual policies and regulations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) were all cited as sources of concern by the business community, Gibbs noted.
Gibbs intends to continue his outreach effort as he pursues legislative and policy issues in Congress, and especially as work begins on the Water Resources Development Act.
We’re hopeful that Gibbs and his staff have gained a clearer view not only of the regional transportation and logistics issues that face his home district but also the interconnectedness of supply chains and the dependence that businesses in his district have on a regional, national and global supply chain network. And, we might add, the interdependence of other businesses outside his district have on the transportation infrastructure, regulations and policy at a local, state and national level. What happens in his district matters to them as well.
To put a new spin on a well worn phrase, the realization that what happens in Ohio doesn’t stay in Ohio can be a positive step towards a national transportation policy. If Gibbs’ efforts were repeated by even one of his peers in each state, perhaps we could move the needle on a national transportation policy. And, if not, at least we might build some awareness among legislators of the importance of logistics. At over 8 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, it’s not inconsequential.
Recognizing that the other 92 percent of the economy doesn’t operate effectively or efficiently if supply chains are impaired should turn up the volume on a discussion of the infrastructure and regulatory priorities of the logistics community. Gibbs has made a small effort in that direction let’s mobilize the industry to capitalize on this simple beginning.