Amazon to Deliver 1,500 Jobs to Alabama

Amazon to Deliver 1,500 Jobs to Alabama

An Amazon fulfillment center is coming to Bessemer.

"The deal is done. The deal was signed yesterday," Jefferson County Commission President Jimmie Stephens told on Friday morning.

Amazon will build a $325 million advanced, robotic fulfillment center on 133 acres off Powder Plant Road in Bessemer. 

The facility will initially employ 1,500 workers, but that number could grow to 3,000, Stephens said. 

Employees will receive full benefits on day one and an average wage of $14.65 an hour.

Stephens said the property is already being cleared for construction. The U.S. Steel-owned property was sold to the Bessemer Industrial Development Board. The property will later be sold to Amazon's development company, he said. 

Amazon made the announcement official late Friday morning. 

"We are thrilled to bring our first fulfillment center to the state of Alabama, creating 1,500 full-time jobs," said Mark Stewart, Amazon's vice president of North America Customer Fulfillment. "Alabama has a talented workforce and we look forward to making a positive economic impact in a state where we are committed to providing great job opportunities and an exceptional customer experience."

According Amazon, employees at the 855,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art fulfillment center will work alongside innovative technology created by Amazon Robotics.  Employees at the fulfillment center will pick, pack and ship small items to customers such as books, household items and toys.

Amazon's fulfillment center will have an annual economic impact of $202.7 million on Jefferson County and a $232.1 million impact on Alabama, according to an analysis prepared by the Center for Business and Economic Research, Culverhouse College of Business, The University of Alabama, and commissioned by the Birmingham Business Alliance.

Annually, $122.7 million will be added to Jefferson County's GDP, $44.8 million of which is earnings to households for 1,523 direct and indirect jobs; $137.3 million will be contributed to Alabama's GDP annually, $79.6 million of which is earnings to Alabama households for 2,630 direct and indirect jobs.

The Alabama Department of Commerce released its own analysis on the financial impact of Amazon over the next 20 years. 

  • Total new payroll: $1.25 billion (construction plus permanent jobs)
  • Total new state revenue: $136 million
  • Return on investment to state: 216 percent 

"Amazon is one of the world's most dynamic companies, and we couldn't be more proud to see the company select Alabama for one of its high-tech fulfillment centers," Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement. "This facility represents good jobs for our citizens and the beginning of a long partnership that I believe will see Amazon expand and grow in Alabama in the future."

On Friday, Bessemer Mayor Ken Gulley said: "Words cannot truly express the excitement this announcement has brought to our city.

"By choosing to locate its Amazon Fulfillment Center here, Amazon is making the largest single private investment in the city of Bessemer's 131-year history," he said. "Amazon is bringing jobs and opportunity to our residents and students. I am particularly proud of the educational incentives Amazon will offer our young people: get your high school diploma, work one year and receive $3,000 the next four years toward furthering your education. I anticipate this investment by Amazon will spur other development opportunities in Bessemer."

Jefferson County Commissioner David Carrington said it was the #bringatob campaign to lure Amazon's second corporate headquarters to Birmingham that attracted Amazon's attention and led to the Bessemer fulfillment center.

The campaign included social media pages and three gigantic Amazon Prime boxes.

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby said Amazon's decision to build in Bessemer is "evidence of our state's excellent workforce.

"This project gives us the opportunity to partner with one of the most successful, widely recognized companies in the world to promote economic growth and development throughout Alabama," he said. "I am proud to be a part of this great announcement and am thrilled to welcome Amazon to the greater Birmingham area."

Full-time employees at Amazon receive competitive hourly wages and a comprehensive benefits package, including healthcare, 401(k) and company stock awards starting on day one, according to Amazon. The also offers maternity and parental leave benefits and access to innovative programs like Career Choice, where it will pre-pay 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.

Since the program's launch, more than 16,000 employees have pursued degrees in game design and visual communications, nursing, IT programming and radiology, to name a few, according to Amazon. 

Amazon received incentives from Bessemer, Jefferson County, Alabama Power and the state of Alabama.

The incentives offered by Jefferson County include paying an amount not to exceed $3.3 million to fund certain roadway improvements and/or reimburse Amazon for a portion of its capital investment.

The development of the property includes installing and equipping certain items of machinery, equipment, furniture, fixtures, and other personal property at the facility necessary for Amazon to conduct customer fulfillment operations.

The Bessemer City Council approved incentives that include reimbursing Amazon for a portion of its capital investment by making quarterly payments to the company over a 10-year period. The payments will be based on the number of Amazon's full-time employees, and the occupational tax collected by the company from these employees and remitted to the city of Bessemer.

The incentives will be calculated as follows: 50 percent of the occupational tax revenues earned on up to one to 2,000 full-time employees; 55 percent earned on 2,001 to 3,000 full-time employees; 60 percent earned on 3,001 to 4,000 full-time employees; and 65 percent earned on 4,000-plus full-time employees.

In the deal, Bessemer will also limit all of its permit fees for Amazon to $200,000 and cap its annual business license tax at $5,000. The city will also agree to partner with Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority to construct and operate an additional transit stop near the site. The city will also agree to provide certain recruitment, screening, and training services.

Under the Alabama Jobs Act, Amazon will receive a jobs credit and an investment credit from the state to facilitate the project, along with workforce development assistance. The estimated value of the jobs credit is $15.5 million over 10 years. The investment credit has an estimated value of $26.2 million over 10 years. 

"Amazon's investment in our community is a big win for the Birmingham region," said Lee Smith, Chairman of the Birmingham Business Alliance. "This state-of-the-art facility will be able to accommodate an expanding workforce and a changing economy as Amazon continues to prepare for its future. The BBA was pleased to lead several aspects of the project, including presentation of the site, infrastructure issues and local incentives. As in most successful projects, it was a well-coordinated community effort that led to a successful conclusion, and we're very grateful to our partners and allies for their great work on this project."

Amazon currently operates a sortation center in Mobile, AL.

Recruitment, screening and pre-employment training will be handled by AIDT. For more information on jobs, click here

Source: "'The Deal Is Done:' Amazon to Bring 1,500 Jobs to Bessemer" (June 22, 2018) Erin Edgemon