Industrial Boomtowns Rise In Unlikely Places


crane sign copyRail has always been the economic backbone of Dillon. Throughout the 20th century, trains shipped tobacco and cotton from this South Carolina town to processing plants up and down arteries on the Eastern Seaboard. By the 1990s, the tobacco industry was in sharp decline, and the trains to and from Dillon slowed to a crawl. Nearly 30 years later, trains are active once more, hauling cargo containers 160 miles from Charleston — one of the South’s busiest ports — into a new $50M distribution hub called Inland Port Dillon.

Once a forgotten town in the heart of the Deep South, Dillon, with a population of 6,604, is now overtaking cities more than 40 times its size to become an anchor of America’s burgeoning warehouse and e-commerce fulfillment center explosion — a $24B construction surge that is being brought into the U.S. mainstream. Dillon is reaping those dollars, but it is far from alone. From Fremont, Nebraska, to Locust Grove, Georgia, to Front Royal, Virginia — all communities with populations less than 30,000 — the next industrial boomtowns are springing up in seemingly unexpected places across rural America. These distribution hubs are attracting newfound population and myriad development opportunities that never would have been possible in the last decade.


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