Did you run any errands in the past week? Maybe to Target, Kohl’s or even Lowe’s? If you’re like me, no weekend is complete without a trip to Target to pick up a few things. My husband and I are remodeling our house, so date nights usually end up at Lowe’s or Home Depot to pick up supplies for our next project. But how many people have stopped to think about how all those conveniently packaged and affordable items end up on those shelves?

Introducing the Freight Fairy. With a flick of the wand, hundreds of toothbrushes and blenders land on the shelves of Target and dozens of lawnmowers and power tools line the aisles of Home Depot.

Enter record scratching noise here.

If only it were that easy! An astonishing 43% of all seaborne cargo imported to the US (you know, all that stuff you bought on your weekend errands) comes in through the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Once at the ports, containers are loaded on to freight trucks and trains and taken to big warehouse-like facilities, called distribution centers, in Southern California. From there, trucks and trains take the goods from those centers and deliver them across the nation. All that moving and transporting of goods is what we call “goods movement” in the transportation industry. It’s what you call traffic when you’re stuck behind a big rig going less than 10 miles per hour on the SR-91 in Riverside.

This month, I attended a FuturePorts conference, a group dedicated to improving the movement of goods in Southern California. The day’s topic was “Looking Through the Crystal Ball: How Will These Factors Shape the Goods Movement Industry of the Future?” Staff members from the ports spoke about the latest projects in the pipeline and members of the shipping industry talked about technological advances in the industry. The group also focused on keeping Southern California competitive in goods movement. There are ports throughout the nation vying for a chunk of the goods imported and exported through our ports, which would take away a major economic driver for our region.

Sitting in traffic on the way home from the conference, I noticed the bumper sticker on a big rig that said, “When trucks stop, America stops.” Not only was the sticker apropos, but it was a reminder to me of the primary reason Mobility 21 is fighting to bring investment home to Southern California to improve our goods movement infrastructure — so trucks and trains can get goods to market faster and so that you can get home to your family sooner.

We’ll be blogging more about goods movement and how important it is to our economy, but I hope this post helped you gain a little appreciation for the steps that were taken to line the aisles of Target.

Take one step further from reading this blog post. I urge you to find your U.S. representative by entering your zip code on the right column of the website. Send them a quick email from their contact page telling them that you support goods movement investment.