GAINES TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Amazon is revealing details about a warehouse it is opening in southeastern Kent County.
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced the Seattle-based company’s planned investment last month, but this is the first time Amazon is discussing its plans for the project previously dubbed “Project Rapids.”
“They (Amazon) were also looking in other states. They wanted a location somewhere around the Midwest for a new fulfillment center. It was up to us to make the business case to land them here in West Michigan,” Tim Mrov, vice president of marketing and communications for local economic development agency The Right Place, Inc. said.
He said southeast Kent County is the perfect spot for Amazon.
“That area … is a very hot area for development right now,” Mroz said. “It’s just a very vibrant area and it’s one of the few areas, to be honest, in Kent County that’s left for large industrial development like this.”
The new fulfillment center at 68th Street and Patterson Avenue in Gaines Township will be the company’s fourth in Michigan. Amazon will lease space on land owned by furniture maker Steelcase. A third party will build the center.
>>PDF: Project Rapids proposal
“It’s going to be a brand new, state-of-the-art facility for Amazon,” Mroz said.
Amazon says the 850,000 square-foot facility will use Amazon Robotics to help employees pick, pack and ship small items like books, electronics and toys to customers.
“Our robots know where and when to place products based on what they’re seeing in customer demand,” Amazon spokesperson Shevaun Brown said.
Just 25 of Amazon’s 170 fulfillment centers worldwide use the robotics system.
TEMPTING JOB PERKS
Amazon says the warehouse will create more than 1,000 full-time jobs with competitive hourly pay and unique benefits in addition to health insurance, disability insurance, a 401(k) and company stock.
Amazon workers who welcome a child are eligible for up to 20 weeks of maternal and parental paid leave. In a blog on the company’s website, Amazon touts more than 60 percent of employees who have utilized its parental leave benefits are fathers.
Amazon also offers “Leave Share,” which allows employees to share their paid leave with a spouse or partner who works for another company that doesn’t offer paid leave.
Amazon employees can also participate in the company’s “Ramp Back” program, which provides eight weeks of optional, flexible, reduced work hours.
For full-time employees interested in career growth, Amazon offers programs like Career Choice, where the company will prepay up to 95 percent of tuition for courses tied to in-demand fields, even if it’s unrelated to their job at Amazon. The company says it’s already helped more than 16,000 employees in a variety of areas, including game design, visual communications, nursing, IT programming and radiology.
“The labor force around the country is tight right now and Amazon knows that,” Mroz said. “What separates Michigan is that we have the talent resources, the workforce development resources to work with Amazon and help them create that talent that they need.”
An Amazon spokesperson says the company will break ground on the facility in about two months.
Amazon expects to start posting West Michigan jobs on its website in about 18 months — about two months before the company expects to complete work on the warehouse.