Metro leaders hope to create an Atlanta-based global center for innovation in logistics and to increase metro logistics jobs from 84,000 to 100,000 by 2010, according to Bob Pertierra, vice president of the Logistics Industry Development for the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.

At a seminar hosted by the chamber last week, a panel comprised of members from the chamber’s Atlanta Logistics Innovation Council discussed the direction Atlanta’s logistics industry is taking.

“Logistic companies around the world increasingly look to Atlanta for the thought leadership and technical skills that are needed for a global economy,” said Harvey Donaldson, a panelist and director of the Logistics Institute at Georgia Institute of Technology.

Working in collaboration with its members – which include many of the metro area’s largest, global-oriented companies – the council hopes to position Atlanta as a global leader in logistics.

Metro Atlanta currently ranks 4th in the nation in transportation and logistics employment, according to chamber data.

The council also wants to help the air cargo community increase volume at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and has set a goal of being in the top five cargo airports in the U.S. by 2010. Currently the airport ranks 10th, according to Mr. Pertierra.

He said the council is likely to set a short-term goal to increase the airport’s standing from 22nd in the world to 20th in air cargo volume, based on data provided by the Geneva-based Airports Council International.

The council plans to pursue this goal by increasing awareness of Atlanta’s strengths, which panel members said are the area’s proximity to air, ground, rail and sea transportation systems, as well as availability of land, a growing population of consumers and intellectual capital provided by local universities and colleges.

“Atlanta is at the center of a population boom that is driving companies to locate here,” said Wayne Gibson, founder of Atlanta-based Gibson Associates Inc. and former senior vice president for global logistics at Home Depot Corp.

But there are challenges in overcoming a lack of awareness of Atlanta’s logistics capabilities, said panelist Tony Charaf, senior vice president of Delta Air Lines Inc.’s cargo division, Delta Air Logistics.

“Right now there are some companies that take freight in Atlanta and then ship it to Miami to send it to Latin America,” he said.

To build awareness and support for its goals, the council is targeting key industries for economic development, including air cargo carriers, logistics software and technology firms, third-party logistics service providers and value-added distribution operations.

The council has also identified manufacturers within a 300-mile radius of Atlanta, Mr. Charaf said.

Other challenges include the increasing complexity of supply chains, globalization of markets and shortening of product life cycles, as well as Americans’ preference for high value added products and services, said panelist John Huntz, Jr., chairman of Manhattan Associates Inc., an Atlanta-based provider of solutions for supply chain needs.

Logistics encompasses all aspects associated with flow of physical materials, including assembly and manufacturing, customer service, distribution and warehousing, sourcing and procurement, supplies and transportation.

For more information, call the Metro Atlanta Chamber at (404) 880-9000 or go to