Top 5 Emerging Industrial Markets

5 min read

CommercialEdge identified the nation’s up-and-coming markets through a series of key metrics.

The industrial sector had another strong year in 2021, powered by ongoing e-commerce growth. More than 300 million square feet of industrial space was under construction across the nation at the end of November 2021 and despite the large active pipeline, demand is expected to be very strong in 2022, as well.

This trend has been apparent in secondary markets, too, where well over 100 million square feet of industrial space was under construction as of December 2021. These markets benefited from rapidly rising population and employment, largely thanks to high lease rates and tight vacancies, which forced occupiers to start looking for alternatives in neighboring markets.

In the table below, CommercialEdge highlights the top five emerging industrial markets in the U.S. based on square footage under construction, trade, transportation and utilities employment and transaction volume.

Rank Market Total Inventory (Sq Ft) Under Construction Sq Ft Transaction Volume (MM) Year-Over-Year Employment Change Overall Score
1 Charleston, S.C. 49,500,204 7,541,332 $3,935.09 6.7% 140
2 Tri-Cities, Wash. 41,667,959 2,636,078 $73.92 11.9% 129
3 El Paso, Texas 48,675,995 3,537,788 $53.54 4.7% 127
4 Reno, Nev. 78,915,991 5,849,720 $5,557.75 6.6% 119
5 Boise, Idaho 36,304,242 1,716,956 $51.30 7.2% 107

5. Boise, Idaho

According to estimates provided by U.S. Census Bureau, Idaho led the country in population growth for the fifth year in a row at the end of 2021, with its capital city emerging as a top-performing commercial and residential metro. Significant population gains coupled with a low unemployment rate keep Boise in the spotlight in the long term. Employment gains were also solid in the trade, transportation and utilities sector. The metro added 5,000 new jobs between November 2020 and November 2021, representing a 7.2 percent increase.

A little over 1.7 million square feet of industrial space across 12 properties was under construction in the market at the end of November 2021, accounting for 4.7 percent of total stock. The largest asset underway consists of phase I of Ball Ventures Ahlquist’s North Ranch Business Park in Nampa, which will add 305,286 square feet of space to the total inventory by June 2022. Meanwhile, transaction volume between January and early December totaled $51.3 million, positioning the market just below El Paso, Texas.

4. Reno, Nev.

Los Angeles and the Inland Empire are some of the tightest industrial markets in the U.S. and their rising rents and limited availability are pushing tenants and businesses alike to consider other emerging industrial markets such as Reno, Nev. This was reflected in employment as well; 5,300 jobs were added in the trade, transportation and utilities sector year-over-year through November, a 6.7 percent increase.

Eight properties encompassing 5.8 million square feet of industrial space were underway in the metro at the end of November, representing 7.4 percent of total stock. Construction plans also call for a two-building development totaling 429,000 square feet known as LogistiCenter at I-80 West Phase II, developed by Dermody Properties. Transaction volume between January and November 2021 totaled more than $5.5 billion, making Reno one of the best-performing markets within the Western region—and across the nation—in terms of total sales volume.

3. El Paso, Texas

Image by perla123 via Pixabay.com

The market’s industrial sector continues its upward trajectory started in 2020, driven by a strong logistics footprint. El Paso is the logistics hub for neighboring Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, which houses some of the top manufacturing firms. What’s more, the market’s warehousing and supply base is located on Interstate 10, equidistant from Houston and Los Angeles, transforming the area into one of the most competitive and quickly emerging industrial markets in the U.S. Trade, transportation and utilities jobs increased by 4.7 percent year-over-year in November 2021, adding roughly 3,000 new positions over the last 12 months.

Five properties totaling 3.5 million square feet of industrial space were under construction as of early December 2021, representing 7.3 percent of total stock, with most of them being speculative. Transaction volume between January and November 2021 totaled $53.5 million, with the year-over-year price per square foot increasing 118.7 percent and reaching $74.37.

2. Tri-Cities, Wash.

Image by GillKeith via Pixabay.com

Population and job growth are the key drivers of commercial construction in the Tri-State region. The area—encompassing the cities of Kennewick, Pasco and Richland in Wash.—has grown 59 percent between 2000 and 2020, adding 113,500 people and projecting to add another 112,000 in the next 20 years, according to a report from Paragon Group. Year-over-year through November, trade, transportation and utilities employment rose by 2,300 jobs, representing an 11.9 percent increase and accounting for one of the largest gains on our list.

There was 2.6 million square feet of industrial space taking shape in the Tri-Cities area at the end of November, 6.3 percent of total stock. The large majority—more than 2 million square feet—was coming from Blue Owl Capital’s Project Oyster and Project Pearl in Pasco, both expected to come online in the third quarter of the year. Industrial sales between January and November totaled $73.9 million.

1. Charleston, S.C.

Image by David Martin via Unsplash.com

This year is expected to be another strong year for Charleston’s industrial market. Growth and demand are mainly driven by the Port of Charleston and the metro’s strong manufacturing sector. Employment in trade, transportation and utilities rose 6.7 percent and increased by 4,500 new jobs year-over-year as of November.

More than 7.5 million square feet of new construction across 14 properties was underway in the market at the end of November, representing 15.2 percent of inventory. The largest industrial project under construction was Walmart’s 2.8 million-square-foot facility at the Ridgeville Industrial Campus in Dorchester County. Transaction volume between January and November 2021 totaled more than $3.9 billion. The market also recorded one of the steepest increases in price per square foot on a year-over-year basis, recording a 120.3 percent increase and clocking in at $116.74 per square foot.

Our Emerging Industrial Markets ranking utilized data provided by CommercialEdge, the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The ranking was calculated based on total inventory, square footage under construction at the end of November 2021, industrial sales volume between January and November 2021 and year-over-year employment growth in the trade, transportation and utilities sector. We also used a total industrial space inventory cut-off to eliminate metros with less than 20 million square feet of industrial stock. 

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