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Amazon’s new ‘fulfillment center’ in Macon to create 500 jobs, $90 million investment

Amazon to build fulfillment center in Macon

Amazon.com plans to build a 1 million-square-foot fulfillment center in Macon. It is expected to employ more than 500 full-time workers and up to 1,000 during peak season.
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Amazon.com plans to build a 1 million-square-foot fulfillment center in Macon. It is expected to employ more than 500 full-time workers and up to 1,000 during peak season.

Amazon is building a “fulfillment center” in south Bibb County, creating more than 500 full-time jobs and making a $90 million investment.

The announcement was made Tuesday by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority.

The 1-million-square-foot warehouse will be built on about 97 acres on Sardis Church Road at Skipper Road.

“These are good paying jobs, and they come with great benefits,” authority Chairman Robby Fountain said. “Amazon is an awesome company to work for, so I think our people will be very fortunate to be able to work for a company like Amazon.”

The Telegraph first reported in September that it appeared Amazon was coming to the site.

“Amazon’s continued investment in our state speaks to our dedication to improve, expand and modernize Georgia’s logistics and distribution network,” Deal said in a statement. “As a top national distribution hub, suppliers can reach 80 percent of the U.S. population from Georgia in just a two-day truck drive or a two-hour flight.”

The Industrial Authority will sell the site to Atlanta-based Seefried Industrial Properties for $5.7 million to build the facility. Seefried has developed several of Amazon’s fulfillment centers, which are warehouses where merchandise is stored before being shipped out to customers.

Construction is expected to begin in 60 to 90 days, and the facility is expected to be in operation in late 2018.

“It’s on a very aggressive time schedule,” Fountain said.

This is the biggest thing to happen in Bibb County in years and years.

Bob Lewis, owner of Bob Lewis & Associates Inc.

The authority offered a 10-year property tax abatement incentive. The public infrastructure costs, including a traffic signal at Sardis Church and Skipper roads and other road improvements and water lines, will be covered by a $1.56 million grant from the state and a $1 million discretionary grant by the authority.

“It takes a lot to make this come together,” Fountain said.

Plans for the distribution center were approved Oct. 9 by the Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission. Also, an application was approved for a building taller than 35 feet.

Bob Lewis, owner of Bob Lewis & Associates Inc., represented the authority in the sale of the property. He learned Monday night that Amazon was the company coming to the site.

“I was really excited,” Lewis said. “This is the biggest thing to happen in Bibb County in years and years.”

Working through the transaction, Lewis said there were a lot of hoops to jump through. For example, the authority had to purchase more properties in the area to accommodate the company.

This would be Amazon’s fifth facility in Georgia, according to the company. It has fulfillment centers in Lithia Springs, Union City and one that just opened in Jefferson. The company’s facility in Braselton is not a fulfillment center, but “it’s a different kind of facility that supports customer fulfillment,” company spokeswoman Ashley Robinson said in an email.

The other centers in Georgia handle everything from medium- and larger-sized items to apparel and smaller-sized customer items.

“We are constantly evaluating our network to ensure we are best meeting customer demand,” Robinson said. “It’s fairly common for more than one of these type of facilities to be located within the same state or even same region.”

Customers of Amazon in the region should get their products quicker.

“It means faster shipping speeds and increased inventory selection eligible for Prime member benefits,” she said.

On Monday, Site Selection magazine ranked Georgia as top state to do business.

“Our robust technology network and world-class logistics infrastructure have been immeasurably beneficial in attracting new business to Georgia and spurring growth for companies already operating here,” Deal said. “Georgia’s strategic location, skilled workforce and innovative spirit are a perfect fit for Amazon’s innovative approach to business, as the company’s needs align with many of our key industries, from technology to distribution to connectivity.”

While 500 jobs were officially announced, plans for the Amazon facility indicate that up to 1,000 workers could be employed during peak season, which generally runs from October to January. Employees in Macon will pick, pack and ship large-sized items for customers, such as furniture, sporting goods and gardening tools. Warehouse, management and supervisory positions will be available.

“We will begin accepting applications as we get closer to the launch of the facility, which we have not announced,” Robinson said.

Benefits include medical, dental and vision insurance as well as 401(k) options, performance-based bonuses and stock awards. Amazon offers full-time employees innovative programs where “the company will prepay up to 95 percent of tuition for courses related to in-demand fields, regardless of whether the skills are relevant to a career at Amazon,” a company release said. Learn more at www.Amazondelivers.jobs.

The Industrial Authority began working with a potential prospect in April, looking for suitable land to build a million-square-foot facility. When Fountain learned the prospect was Amazon, he was a bit skeptical.

“When we first started this project, we called it Project Unicorn, and the reason we did is because nobody has ever seen a unicorn,” he said, causing the crowd gathered for the announcement to laugh. “And we never thought we would see this project either. It’s so big, we never thought we had a shot.

“I say that in jest, but never count Macon-Bibb County out because there is lot of good things happening in Macon-Bibb County. ... It never gets old to have these announcements. It’s just a great honor to announce Amazon as our newest partner.”

The Amazon U.S. fulfillment network consists of more than 50 fulfillment centers, over 20 sortation centers and more than 90,000 full-time employees. Have a look around.

Linda S. Morris: 478-744-4223, @MidGaBiz

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