The Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce today formally announced the old news that Amazon is building a so-called fulfillment center at the Little Rock Port as well as a delivery operation in Southwest Little Rock.
The Amazon 85,000-square-foot delivery center in a former Jacuzzi factory in Southwest Little Rock was reported in March. It is to open this year. It receives packages from fulfillment and “sortation” centers and then delivers them. It is expected to create “hundreds” of full- and part-time jobs.
In early April, news of the bigger fulfillment center on 80 acres at the port was revealed, including the names of the developer and contractor.
The 825,000-square-foot facility is expected to create more than 1,000 full-time jobs when it opens in 2021. Workers there, and robots, will pick and pack items purchased through the Amazon website.
City officials think some related jobs will be created by private delivery services that contract as part of the web giant’s delivery chain.
From the chamber release:
“We’re delighted to be building out our network of operations in Little Rock, Arkansas,” said Alicia Boler Davis, Amazon’s vice president of global customer fulfillment. “We greatly appreciate the strong support from local and state leaders as we look to open our first fulfillment center and second delivery station in the state of Arkansas. We look forward to creating over a thousand jobs for the Little Rock community, with industry leading pay and comprehensive benefits starting on day one.”
The release touted Amazon’s pay and benefits:
On top of Amazon’s industry-leading minimum starting wage from $15, the company offers full-time employees comprehensive benefits including full medical, vision, and dental insurance as well as a 401(k) with 50 percent match starting on day one. The company also offers up to 20 weeks of maternal and parental paid leave and innovative benefits such as Leave Share and Ramp Back, which give new parents flexibility with their growing families.
City, state and federal dollars have contributed to road improvements at the port that will help Amazon and other industries. Amazon bought its property outright, unlike some other companies that have been provided free land for industrial developments.
The state has, until now, refused to disclose what if anything it offered Amazon in the way of incentives. There’s a question of whether it can qualify for standard state cash incentives for job creation and sales tax avoidance on construction materials because it is a retail operation. Retailers don’t qualify for corporate welfare incentives in Arkansas. The Arkansas Economic Development Commission has already confirmed the last-mile delivery center based in Southwest Little Rock doesn’t qualify. With the “official” announcement of the port fulfillment center, I”ve renewed my request for any state offers for the larger development.
The state had little to do with Amazon landing here, according to what I’ve been told. The development at the port was shepherded by the port and the Little Rock chamber. But it was not exactly a competitive process that pitted Little Rock against other locations. The Little Rock center will be one of 100 Amazon has placed around the country to best serve its markets. The location is the first in Arkansas and it will make it easier to reach the many customers for its goods here and in nearby states. It will, as I’ve noted before, take business away from existing Arkansas retailers. Online retailers present a growing threat to brick-and-mortar retailers today much as Walmart once ran mom-and-pops out of business in small towns all over America. Now Walmart is ratcheting up its online business to cope with Amazon.
UPDATE: Confirmed by AEDC. The state’s $1 million contribution to the road improvements at the port are the only contribution made to the Amazon developments. See: You can get major industrial developments without giving away the taxpayers’ ranch.
Amazon doesn’t always get high marks for labor relations. The work is grueling, reports say. Amazon also is unfriendly to unions (another plus for Arkansas on Amazon’s evaluation because it is a right-to-work state.)