Amazon.com makes it official!
by RICK NORTON, Associate Editor
Dec 20, 2010 | 7306 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Amazon.com today made official what most already suspected — the giant Internet retailer will construct a pair of 1 million square-foot fulfillment centers in Bradley and Hamilton counties which will create an expected 1,400 jobs over the next three years.

The Bradley County facility, which is expected to handle larger products, should employ some 226 full-time workers with as many as 600 to 800 temporary jobs to be added during seasonal peak periods. Direct annual payroll for the Bradley County full-time positions could be about $8.1 million.

Workers’ average salaries are expected to be about $32,000 per year.

The Bradley County fulfillment center will be located along State Route 308. The Hamilton County center will be built in Enterprise South Industrial Park.

The company’s total investment in the two facilities is expected to be $139 million. The Hamilton County facility, which reportedly will handle smaller products, will employ about 1,200 workers.

Both fulfillment centers should be in operation by Christmas 2011.

Today’s confirmation of the planned construction came in a joint announcement by Gov. Phil Bredesen, State Economic and Community Development Commissioner Matt Kisber and Dave Clark, vice president of North America Operations for Amazon.com.

“I’m pleased our discussions with Amazon.com have concluded with a positive result,” Bredesen said from his Nashville office. “This announcement means good job opportunities for Tennesseans with a great company and a strong endorsement of Tennessee’s business climate.”

Kisber agreed and pointed to the effectiveness of Tennessee’s jobs-recruiting efforts.

“Amazon.com’s announcement is another example of the effectiveness of Gov. Bredesen’s jobs cabinet and the strength of our partnerships with the local communities,” Kisber said. “This is a significant investment by a highly respected global brand and we’re pleased to have Amazon.com in Tennessee.”

The company’s North American leader said the pair of distribution centers in Southeast Tennessee will be strategically sound for a growing corporation whose economic impact is being felt in many communities and regions where its facilities are located.

“We’re excited to be opening two new facilities in Tennessee to allow us to serve customers more quickly and efficiently,” Clark stressed. “We’re thankful for the continuing cooperation of Gov. Bredesen, Gov.-elect Haslam and the Department of Economic and Community Development, as well as the county and local officials.”

Local leaders from Cleveland, Bradley County and the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce are ecstatic over the company’s confirmed plans.

One is Ross Tarver, chairman of the Cleveland/Bradley Industrial Development Board, whose organization has been pivotal over the past few months in recruiting new companies to the area as well as encouraging existing companies to expand their operations and to build additional or new facilities. One example is the Whirlpool Corporation which is building a new 1.4 million square-foot manufacturing facility and distribution center.

Another is Wacker Chemie, which has begun site preparation for its new $1.5 billion plant in North Bradley County. Yet another is the Olin plant in Bradley County which is investing $165 million in a conversion that will eliminate mercury from its operation by 2012.

“We’re happy Amazon.com has finalized its decision to locate in our region,” Tarver said. “The jobs created by Amazon will be another major boost to the diversity of our local and regional economy.”

Tarver credited the efforts of Bredesen and Kisber in recruiting Amazon to Southeast Tennessee, and also he pinpointed Doug Berry, vice president of economic development for the local Chamber of Commerce, the latter of whom has been instrumental in each of the major recruitment projects — Whirlpool, WACKER, Olin and Amazon.com.

Bradley County Mayor Gary Davis said the Amazon.com confirmation comes as a direct result of the quality of life offered in the region.

“I’m pleased Amazon.com has chosen Bradley County for one of two distribution centers in this area,” Davis said. “Our workforce, good schools and quality of life combine to make Bradley County an excellent choice for the world’s largest Internet retailer and this announcement is a good example of how counties and chambers of commerce can work together in a regional partnership.”

Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland said although the Amazon.com fulfillment center will be located outside the municipal city limits, the Cleveland City Council will work with the company cooperatively in its welcoming into Bradley County.

“This is one of many industrial blessings we have received this year,” Rowland said. “I am very thankful this has fallen into place and that Amazon.com has confirmed its decision to become a part of our Bradley County, Cleveland and Southeast Tennessee community.”

Rowland repeated his past sentiment that “ ... Southeast Tennessee, Cleveland and Bradley County have become an economic hot spot in our state, in our region and in our proud country.”

State Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland, who represents the 22nd Legislative District which includes the Amazon.com site, praised the company’s confirmation and those whose efforts have brought it to fruition.

“I am so grateful for Amazon’s investment in Bradley County and in the people of Tennessee,” Watson said. “I believe Amazon came to our district because of our shared values, our commitment to innovation and our strong respect for the environment. This project will have a significant impact on the economy of Tennessee and the district for decades to come.”

Watson added, “Not only will Bradley County be forever changed, but my entire district will reap great benefits from the new suppliers that this facility will attract to the region. This is an outstanding achievement for our district and our state.”

The veteran legislator said he is impressed with the “spirit of partnership” between the state, Cleveland and Bradley County governments, area business leaders and Amazon.com officials.

“This area has a deep base of well-trained labor with excellent engineering and manufacturing programs at the universities and technical colleges,” he said. “Today, we stand with our new friends from Amazon to make an historic announcement that will create new opportunities for our community for years to come.”

State Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland, who represents the 24th Legislative District, concurred with Watson’s sentiments and called the Amazon.com confirmation another Christmas gift for the region.

“We are so thankful for this early Christmas gift,” Brooks said. “This announcement makes official the work of many people over many months. We are so fortunate to have such a great team here at the local level — the chamber, the state and our federal partners. Southeast Tennessee is truly becoming a major player in economic and industrial recruitment. We all have much to be thankful for this Christmas season.”