60 seconds with Page Siplon
Title: Executive director, Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics
Location: Savannah, Ga.
Experience: 5 years as director, following 12 years in the military
Primary Focus: The center provides resources to help companies grow locally and compete globally
Modern: Tell us about your work at the center.
Siplon: First and foremost, we recognize that logistics is important to business from a bottom-line perspective. If you’re moving products to customers, you have to do that faster, better and cheaper. Georgia has declared logistics a strategic industry. At the center, we are the front door to help companies work through that process. Half of the companies we work with are already here in Georgia and want to expand their business. We work with them on improving their logistics. The other half are companies that aren’t here in Georgia and we want them to be, so that’s recruitment. Sometimes it’s very complicated around supply chains and sometimes it’s very simple.
Modern: Almost every state does economic development. What makes you unique?
Siplon: Our sweet spot, and what we think is unique, is technology.
At the end of the day, transportation, warehousing and supply chain operations are impacting on every company. If you’re going to increase your volumes, go after new markets or do things faster, better and cheaper, technology is going to help you get there.
Now, we don’t have a product to sell, but there are hundreds of companies in Georgia (like Manhattan Associates and RedPrairie) that do. And, there are thousands of companies around the world that have solutions for the supply chain. We have created an inventory of some 400 solution providers in Georgia, as well as providers located outside the state. We’ve also taken the time to learn about what they do. If you’re a warehouse with an inventory management problem that can be solved by a warehouse management system (WMS) or data collection, we can connect you with solution providers who can help you get that up and running. If you’re a smaller company that needs technology in order to sell to Home Depot, we can help you with that as well. We create a better environment for them when it comes to logistics.
Modern: That sounds like a different take on economic development, which usually focuses on regional energy costs, tax incentives and access to labor.
Siplon: Those conversations don’t go away. But we want to take the conversation beyond that. We think we’re unique in that we work as part of their team. We also try to look beyond the RFP to make sure that what they’re looking for will work in the location they’re considering. Georgia logistics is different than, say, California logistics. And, what they think they need may not work here. We help them figure that out a little quicker and a little faster. We also understand what’s happening in other parts of the world to help customers set up facilities elsewhere if that will help them grow, expand and compete.