Online retail giant Amazon is putting the final touches on a fulfillment center in West Deptford that when completed will employ upward of 2,000 people when it opens next month.
The fulfillment center measures 655,000 square feet, large enough to house 30 football fields, and features robotics that help employees to pack merchandise. West Deptford is 15 miles south of Philadelphia.
Jasmin Begagic, Amazon general manager, said the company pays up to 95 percent of tuition costs for its employees who are pursuing a degree in higher education even if the subject is not related to their Amazon job.
“Amazon’s presence in New Jersey means more than just jobs provided within these four walls,” Begagic said. “Amazon supports hundreds of construction jobs. In fact more than 250 contractors were hired to build this fulfillment center. More than 90 percent of this project was built by New Jersey companies.”
Amazon employees will pick, pack and ship items from the fulfillment center. The company also will employ technicians who maintain equipment as well as financial professionals and information technology professionals. The company expects to have at least 2,000 employees by November in advance of the holiday season.
“There are several factors that we consider every time we build our buildings,” Begagic said. “One is being close enough to our customers because our intent is to meet customer demand. We look at where our customers are. We also look at the availability of labor. We look for dedicated people who are customer-obsessed.”
Amazon will be hiring from local New Jersey towns for the duration of August and into September.
Mac Utsey, vice president of development at Hillwood, the developer of the site, thanked elected leaders for supporting the project. Hillwood began its professional relationship with Amazon in 2011 on a project in San Bernardino, Calif., and has since partnered on 20 others.
“As the developer, we play a modest role in identifying sites and bringing a team of like-minded professionals together toward a common goal,” Utsey said.
Utsey thanked New Jersey-based general contractor R.C. Andersen LLC for keeping the project on schedule and moving forward even “under challenging and aggressive circumstances.”
“It is an understatement to say they have been instrumental approving this project in a courteous and expeditious manner,” Utsey said.
West Deptford Deputy Mayor James Mehaffey credited Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District, for helping to secure this project for southwestern New Jersey.
Amazon construction manager Diana Patille said construction of the site began in August 2017 and continued through snowstorms and heavy rain. The roof features heating and cooling units, a solar array and a 65,000 gallon fire-water storage tank.
“This has been a very good and profitable project,” Patille said, referring to contractors.
The Township of West Deptford and Gloucester County worked together to move this project through the planning and zoning process. Gloucester County worked with Amazon to recruit and train prospective employees to the fulfillment center in West Deptford and two Amazon centers in nearby Logan Township.
“Amazon will be the largest employer in Gloucester County,” said Freeholder Heather Simmons. “There will be over 4,500 employees in Gloucester County.”
“We work with our economic development department and our One Stop Career Center, which is a state-operated employment services office,” Simmons said. “[The career center] provides everything from resume writing to training to customized training once they are employed here. We do those specifically with certain audiences such as disabled residents and veterans.”
“What makes it work here is our location near I-295, a significant corridor for truck traffic, the Delaware River and rail,” Simmons said. “The location in terms of infrastructure makes sense but also where we are in relation to Washington [D.C.], New York and Boston makes a lot of sense. Philadelphia is 10 minutes away. Within an eight-hour drive are about 49 million residents of this country.”