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June 1, 2018 9:30 AM, EDT
DHL to Open Americas Innovation Center, Relocates Florida Facility
Mike Parra at DHL America's Innovation Center groundbreaking Mike Parra, DHL Express CEO for the Americas, speaks at DHL's groundbreaking ceremony for its Americas Innovation Center on May 30 in Rosemont, Ill. (Peter Wynn Thompson/AP Images for DHL)

International logistics giant DHL has been active in the United States this spring, laying the foundation for a major marketing and education center and growing a service facility in Florida.

DHL broke ground May 30 on the Americas Innovation Center in Rosemont, Ill., a complex designed to showcase forward-thinking supply chain technologies and practices that the company is implementing in the region.

The 24,000-square-foot center will focus on the future of logistics and present a view of the transport infrastructure of 2050. Planned themes include robotics and automation, artificial intelligence, self-driving vehicles, the Internet of Things and virtual reality.

The center, which can host events for up to 300, is scheduled to open to DHL customers and partners next summer. Rosemont is located between Chicago and O’Hare International Airport.

The Americas Center will join the DHL Innovation Center in Troisdorf, Germany, and the Asia Pacific Innovation Center in Singapore.

“With our third innovation center worldwide, we will be able to create a platform for research and collaborative innovation between DHL customers, start-ups, academia, industry partners and innovation experts in the Americas region,” said Matthias Heutger, global head of innovation and commercial development at DHL. “Inspire, connect and engage — these are the main goals we pursue with our innovation centers.”

DHL divisions in the Americas have been using drones, robotics, augmented and virtual reality, and artificial technology at company warehouses and other locations.

DHL also relocated to a new service center in Tampa, Fla., that is twice the size of its former one, as it prepares to better serve the growth of international e-commerce and trade in the greater Tampa-St. Petersburg region.

The new $5 million, 35,000-square-foot facility on Oak Fair Boulevard can process up to 2,000 pieces an hour, ranging from small parcels to palletized freight.

“This new facility puts importers and exporters in an excellent position to trade in the international marketplace,” said Chet Paul, general manager of the Southeast for DHL Express U.S., which is based in Plantation, Fla.

The center has access to north-south Interstate 75 and east-west I-4, and is about 100 miles west of Orlando International Airport. The service area encompasses Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas and Sarasota counties.

DHL is part of Bonn, Germany-based Deutsche Post DHL Group. Its Westerville, Ohio-based DHL Supply Chain division ranks No. 3 on the Transport Topics Top 50 list of the largest logistics companies in North America.

Mindy Long contributed to this story.