Amazon robots, 1,500 humans to staff new Thornton fulfillment center

The new facility in Thornton will be unlike any other fulfillment center in our state.

KUSA - Amazon plans to open its first Colorado Amazon Robotics fulfillment center in Thornton.

The new site will create more than 1,500 new full-time associates roles, Amazon said in a news release. 

“This facility will utilize Amazon Robotics, vision systems, and more than 20 years’ worth of software and mechanical innovations. We are grateful for the support we have received from state and local leaders who have helped make this project possible.” said Akash Chauhan, Amazon’s Vice President of North American Operations.

The facility will have three floors making it a 2.4-million-square-foot center, that will occupy the space of nearly 60 football fields. When it opens in August 2018, it will be Thornton’s largest employer.

“The robotics enables us to meet customer demand, because we have more items on hand, we can fulfill those customer orders faster and customers, they like that, they respond well to it and in order to keep up with that demand, we have to hire more people,” said Ashley Robinson, a spokesperson for Amazon. “Our fulfillment centers that utilize robotics are typically our largest in work force, hourly work force.”

The robots and humans working inside will pick, pack and ship smaller items such as electronics, toys and books.

Assistant Director of Thornton’s economic development Adam Krueger said the city didn’t provide any direct tax incentives for the company to build in Thornton. The state did not offer any incentive tax credits, either, because the pay Amazon offers - starting at about $30,000 per year - is too low. According to the Denver Business Journal, wages must be at least 100 percent of the average annual salary in Adams County. However, Amazon will receive certain incentives because they are in an enterprise zone, or regions of Colorado where a business-friendly environment is promoted in "economically distressed areas."

“They (Amazon) are located in the state enterprise zone, which we worked with City Council last year to establish,” Krueger said.  “A huge benefit for them, provides them state income tax credits. It's not city incentive, but state income tax credits for locating in the area for training employees for providing benefits, for buying equipment all those things.”

Enterprise-zone tax credits technically do come out of the state’s budget, but they are determined by the operators of the enterprise zone, not the Colorado Economic Development Commission. There are state-funded incentives, but not ones that the state's Economic Development Commission actually has to approve.

According to Amazon, the new full-time employees will receive hourly wages, comprehensive benefits, a 401(k), as well as company stock options.

They will also offer maternity/parental leave and 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."

“I think overall, looks like good news for Colorado worker,” said DU’s Daniels College of Business professor Cindi Fukami. “If a job is so simple that it can be done by a robot, why would a human being want to do this work, human beings are capable of a lot more.”

The Thornton facility will be hiring closer to the August 2018 opening date.

The Aurora distribution center that’s nearing completion will be hiring in the next few months.

For more information go to http://www.amazondelivers.jobs/

Copyright 2017 Denver Business Journal


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