2012-09-26 / News

Amazon ramps up for operation ahead of schedule

By Michael Buettner
NEWS EDITOR


Garrett Hart, assistant director of economic development (from left), Jay Stegmaier, county administrator, and Will Davis, director of economic development, who were key players in the Amazon.com deal, toured the construction site at Meadowville Technology Park over the summer. 
Page Dowdy /Chesterfield Observer Garrett Hart, assistant director of economic development (from left), Jay Stegmaier, county administrator, and Will Davis, director of economic development, who were key players in the Amazon.com deal, toured the construction site at Meadowville Technology Park over the summer. Page Dowdy /Chesterfield Observer The trucks are rolling into the Meadowville Technology Park, carrying products to the new Amazon.com distribution center after the county’s biggest economic development project was completed more than two weeks ahead of schedule.

Amazon has employees working in its new, 1 million-square-foot distribution facility and is “starting to move products into the building,” Timmons Group’s Paul Trapp told the county’s Economic Development Authority board last week; Trapp’s firm has been overseeing the Amazon project.

Garrett Hart, assistant director of the authority, said the Internet retailer’s first 200 employees went to work at the facility on Sept. 17 and started stocking the shelves.

Hart noted that the facility received its temporary certificate of occupancy, which allows operations to start, 15 days ahead of the schedule set when the county secured the $85 million project last December.

The company has completed hiring of its 1,000 permanent workers after receiving about 7,000 applications, Hart said.

For the busy Christmas shopping season, Amazon will boost its work force to about 2,500 to 3,000 people in the fourth quarter of this year, Trapp said. The additional workers will be provided through a temporary employment agency, Hart said.

A second new Amazon facility in Dinwiddie County, smaller than the Chesterfield operation, has also completed hiring and is set to open soon, Hart said.

Getting the Amazon projects finished on time was a high priority for local and state leaders.

With 1,000 permanent workers at the Meadowville facility and an additional 350 in Dinwiddie, the Amazon project overall was the biggest job-creation announcement in Virginia since 2004, according to Gov. Bob McDonnell’s office.

More recently, Capital One Financial announced in June that it plans to invest $150 million to build a high-tech data center at Meadowville.

Hart said the Cap One project started construction last week. Although the facility will be much smaller than the Amazon warehouse – about 100,000 square feet, with about 50 employees – the project is more complicated and expected to take about a year to finish, he said.

The Board of Supervisors also noted the Amazon milestone last week.

County Administrator Jay Stegmaier told the board that Amazon representatives “are talking about beginning to ship packages from the facility in October.”

Overall development of the Meadowville business park is continuing at a rapid pace. The infrastructure the Economic Development Authority is building at the park includes about two miles of roads that Trapp said should be completed within about 30 days.

Permanent directional signs haven’t been installed yet, which has led to some confusion on the part of truck drivers headed for Amazon, Hart said. Some have taken a wrong turn and ended up at Northrup-Grumman’s facility, previously the only tenant at Meadowville.

Northrup-Grumman is a very security-conscious operation and hasn’t been happy about the intrusions, but the company has been “very polite” in asking the EDA to fix the problem, Hart said.

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