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Photo by Joe Wilhelm Jr. - Derrick Smith, CSX Transportation vice president of emerging markets, provides a presentation Tuesday for the Economic Roundtable of Jacksonville on "The role of rail logistics" at the Jacksonville University Davis College o...
Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Jan. 30, 201312:00 PM EST

CSX's Smith discusses the role of railroads in logistics

by: Joe Wilhelm Jr.

Construction markets continue a slow recovery, hampered by a lack of state funding for road projects — but gains in the overall economy are being seen, according to Derrick Smith, CSX Corp. vice president of emerging markets.

"Most states are broke and depending on federal dollars to pay for road projects," Smith told members of the Economic Roundtable of Jacksonville on Tuesday.

In his presentation, "The Role of Rail Logistics," Smith described the company's logistical role in trade.

"We manage the product pipeline for businesses across America," said Smith.

He provided an example of the product pipeline moving automobiles from Detroit to dealerships throughout the country. Other products shipped by rail include intermodal containers (ship to rail), phosphates, orange juice, aggregates and light trucks. One of the larger trains CSX operates is the Tropicana Train, which runs from Bradenton to Jersey City, N.J.

CSX operates east of the Mississippi River to serve a majority of the U.S. population. The company provides rail-based transportation services including traditional rail service and the transport of intermodal containers and trailers, according to the company website.

Smith outlined the CSX operating area through the destinations of Chicago, New Orleans, Miami and Montreal, while also explaining how the company starts its research of economic drivers to find market needs each summer.

Such drivers include industrial growth, oil and gas markets and waste streams generated by residential, construction and industrial markets.

"Yes, we do operate a profitable business hauling away waste. The market depends, partly, on the tipping fees being charged in the area where our customers are. It may be cheaper for them to have us haul it away than to go to their area landfill," said Smith.

It's in that research that Smith and CSX show a continued slow growth of the construction market. Despite the lack of growth there, there is overall progress, he said.

"We are in a recovering economy. It may not be explosive growth, but we are recovering," Smith told the group.

The Economic Roundtable of Jacksonville was founded in 1975 to provide a forum for economic issues and a network for local economists and those interested in business economics. The organization has about 150 active and is the Jacksonville chapter of the National Association for Business Economics. Members come from business, government, academia and nonprofit organizations.

Its next meeting is 11:30 a.m. Feb. 26 and will be a regional economic outlook. It will feature keynote speakers Michael Chriszt, vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, and Chris Oakley, vice president and regional executive of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta Jacksonville Branch.

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