Livonia – Internet retail giant Amazon gave a first look Wednesday inside the company’s new regional fulfillment center under construction in Livonia.
When it opens this fall, the $90 million facility at 39000 Amrhein is expected to create 1,000 full-time jobs for workers who will pick, pack and ship large-sized customer orders. The goal is to be ready by the holiday season, said Fred Holwey, senior operations manager for Amazon.
“We’re hoping this will fulfill the (customer) demand gap,” said Holwey, who is overseeing construction of the center, the largest Amazon building in Michigan. A sorting center opened in Brownstown Township in 2015.
The center, which is more than 1 million square feet, will house items including kayaks, washers and dryers and large pieces of equipment, Holwey said.
On Wednesday, crews were working in a variety of areas in the building on tasks including exterior pavement work, drilling and painting. Shelving units are being installed to store all of the products that enter the building. Roller ramps will lead to trucks for outbound orders.
The property sits on the former site of General Motors Spring and Bumper Plant, which had sat empty since the late 1990s. Last fall, the plant was torn down to make it more attractive to potential developers, said Livonia Mayor Dennis Wright.
The hope is that with Amazon’s presence, more businesses will be attracted to the industrial park near Interstate 96 and I-275, said Dan West, president and CEO of the Livonia Chamber of Commerce.
In March, the mayor announced that Republic National Distributing Company purchased a property neighboring the fulfillment center to build a 550,000-square-foot warehouse.
West said additional workers in the city will be good for businesses.
“When you look at a thousand jobs coming to our area... they’ve all got to go through our town, they’ve got to go past our stores, past our restaurants,” he said. “I imagine the mayor and city council will be getting site plans for newer restaurants and newer stores in the immediate area because of all the activity that’s going to come into our area to support the Amazon plan.”
In December, Amazon won approval for up to $7.5 million in performance grants from the state. The incentive was to help the company attract workers in a state with low unemployment.
Cynthia Richardson, director of talent attraction and resources for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, expressed confidence that Amazon can attract the employees it seeks, some of whom may work minimum wage jobs.
Hiring is underway for the center, with pay starting at $13.25 for a warehouse associate and $14.70 for a lead warehouse associate. Workers will receive full benefits, including health insurance, 401(k) and company stock awards, their first day on the job.
“These are good-paying jobs, so this is going to be an opportunity for upscaling,” Richardson said. “We call it the rising tide effect. It will raise entry level wages in southeast Michigan.”
Amazon will also offer employees a program that prepays 95 percent of tuition for courses related to in-demand fields.
In addition to the 1,000 hourly jobs, nearly 100 more employees will be hired for managerial, support and human resource positions.
Amazon’s investment has been estimated at nearly $90 million in the product distribution hub, including construction, machinery, equipment and other improvements.
Michigan won over the Seattle-based company after competing with Ohio and Indiana for the largely automated facility.
Company officials have previously said Livonia was a preferred site after factoring in Amazon’s truck and transportation needs.
Applicants must apply online at www.amazon.jobs.