Understandably, the giant distributor — including both the Bradley and Hamilton County facilities — had its hands full late last year by opening its new centers at the height of the holiday rush. Certainly, the timing was part of the company’s calculated business strategy and for this reason it limited what Amazon could and could not do within the community in its first few months.
All that has now changed.
The “coulds” are now quickly outpacing the “could nots.” And our Cleveland, Charleston and Bradley County hometown is becoming the welcoming beneficiary.
Following in the footsteps of a pair of other new members within our growing business community — the breathtaking Whirlpool Cleveland Division manufacturing plant on Benton Pike and the giant Wacker Polysilicon North America complex still under construction near Charleston — Amazon has proudly demonstrated its intent to become a contributing corporate citizen.
For starters, Amazon recently gifted the students at Bachman Academy with 50 new Kindle Touch electronic readers. Like most private schools, Bachman Academy has a long list of diverse needs and a short collection of resources available.
One of those needs was marked off the ledger, compliments of the civic-mindedness of Amazon. Headmaster Mark Frizzell was animated in his reaction.
“When Amazon called and said they were presenting us this gift, we were just thrilled,” the educator told our newspaper. “It’s an incredible, incredible moment for us.”
And for the students. Those familiar with this newest form of literacy technology understand the Kindle — although its prices are coming down — is an expensive device, but one whose reader-friendliness will go a long way now and into the future toward simplifying life, and lifestyles, for those who enjoy reading.
The Amazon donation included a $1,500 gift certificate for content to be added to the e-readers.
Amazon also has stepped up to make a $5,000 donation toward the purchase of the new Hiwassee Cultural Center in Charleston. The future center will be located in the old Regions Bank building. A carefully organized campaign to raise funds for the building’s purchase, and its remodeling, is being coordinated by a group of heritage-savvy residents who believe in the Charleston community, its proud history and the longstanding impact of the Hiwassee River on the lives of many generations of residents who have called this region their home.
Most recently, Amazon opened its doors to a large group of local government, civic and community leaders who received their first look at the interior of the impressive facility during a long-awaited grand opening. To quote a familiar adage, the proof is in the pudding.
In this case, the pudding was Amazon’s fame as being the leading Internet retailer; the proof was the mountain of products stacked across much of the floor awaiting shipment to customers in lands far and wide.
When Amazon announced plans to build in Bradley County, it promised 250 full-time jobs and several hundred more seasonal workers. Already the company has almost doubled its pledge with 450 employees, including 100 who were recently converted from seasonal workers to full time.
Amazon is still a young story and locally it is an impressive one.
We congratulate general manager Mike Thomas on these early successes and we applaud the workmanship of his employees whose commitment to excellence will be yet another reason for existing companies to stay in Cleveland and new ones to visit with purpose.