Anu Saxena, Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce Board Chairman,announced Wednesday the Chamberâ€™s opposition to the USPS consolidation plans for the Lakeland Processing and Distribution Center. The Chamber, in a written letter to the Consumer Affairs Manager of the Suncoast District of the USPS, asked that the following points be taken into consideration:
- Lakeland is located strategically between Tampa and Orlando on the I-4 corridor, a geographic super-region that is ranked seventh largest in the country and fifteenth in the world. Lakelandâ€™s strategic location, with 8.5 million people living within a 100-mile radius of the city, should be considered an asset to the USPS as more individuals are projected to move into the region placing a greater burden on mail services.
- What is the cost and service efficiency of collecting the 338 zip code mail in Lakeland and trucking it to Tampa? Once processed at the Tampa P&DC Center, this same mail will have to be trucked BACK to Lakeland and to further points in the 338 service area. This practice adds to increased truck traffic on an already stressed interstate system and results in consumption of excess fuel.
- Lakelandâ€™s P&DC has been recognized frequently as the top processing plant in the country. Why wouldnâ€™t that level of service be utilized to its maximum capacity rather than forcing the Tampa facility to increase their overtime labor to handle the additional mail service?
- The USPS also claims that local postmarks will continue to be available. This is true, but only if one physically takes his mail to a Post Office. The majority of our Chamber members are small business owners who do not have ample time in their day to drive mail to a post office, thus their mail will no longer bear the Lakeland postmark resulting in a loss of identity.
Every business in this country is enduring the same challenges the USPS faces: to identify cost-saving measures to keep their doors open without jeopardizing their most valuable asset, the customers they serve. While we commend the efforts of the USPS to improve operational efficiency and make more efficient use of Postal Service assets, we urge the USPS to consider the negative consequences of moving Lakelandâ€™s First Class mail operations to Tampa.