The Best Places in the United States for Printing Companies to be Located Are...
The U.S. geographical center for print supply (see the green pin in the map in the photo tab to the right) is Blue Island IL, an old industrial area on the south side of Cook County. “It” traveled here mathematically during the past 65 years from Bethel Park, PA, an old industrial area on the south side of Pittsburgh. Both places look and even smell alike as if our industry never migrated. But it did, and once-big printing towns from Bangor to Buffalo, Danbury to Sharon and Secaucus to Medina have shared the irreparable shut-downs.
This “pull” westward, however, did, and continues to, shift supply away from the MVP “most valuable player” metros such as New York and Washington, DC, which are today in the Underserved League. The abandoned printer’s rows are historical curiosities now populated by creative agencies, museums, condo lofts, sidewalk cafes, nightspots and faded signage on buildings with names long forgotten. San Francisco’s Mission District is a prime example, going from printers to brokers to no one there.
The other underserved markets are principally hubs of post-industrial technology, finance, energy and entertainment, notably Seattle-Tacoma, San Jose and Austin.
The center for print demand (blue pin in the map in the photo tab to the right) from where equal proportions of our customers are north, south, east and west, is Columbus OH. That’s the 354-mile trip our statistical salesperson takes from Blue Island IL. Supply is off-course 17°, moving farther away from our customers. By 2019 the demand center will pass through South Vienna (Ohio!).
During this same 65 years, print consumption (the same thing as the U.S. population) migrated at a pace of 10.8 miles per year from Attica, IN, to Perry, OK. That places it (brown pin in the map in photo tab to the right) 757 miles (or 1,218 km) SSW of our collective shipping dock, and on a more alarming heading difference of 21°. If we calibrated our presses so carelessly we’d all go out of business, and so we may if the supply trajectory is not course corrected.
Inside or Outside the Strike Zone
If your business is concentrated, it’s best to be nearer the customers than to their customers. Co-location is the home run strategy here. No traveling back and forth, and no sales offices to set up. The latter are always disasters with issues of taxation, law, rents and personnel.