May 14, 2011

Amazon set to expand Phoenix fulfillment center

amazon logo Inc. plans to add 400,000 square feet to its fulfillment center at 6835 W. Buckeye Road in Phoenix in a move that will create hundreds of new jobs and expand the online retailer's footprint in Arizona to more than 3 million square feet.

Construction is expected to begin this month and be completed in September, in time for the company's Christmas rush.

Once complete, the facility will cover 1 million square feet, making it one of the larger Amazon fulfillment centers in North America.

Amazon now operates three fulfillment centers in the Phoenix area where products are stored and eventually pulled, packaged and shipped to online buyers.

The company is currently seeking candidates for full-time management jobs at its Phoenix and Goodyear facilities that include operations, human resources and technical support.

Amazon, which says it has "hundreds" of full-time employees in Arizona, brings on thousands of temporary workers for the holiday rush. Last year, the company added as many as 5,000 temporary workers to fill the flood of online orders that come in from October to January.

The Phoenix-area fulfillment centers stock everything from kayaks to capers, and more products are added constantly.

The 600,000-square-foot Buckeye Road facility that has been targeted for expansion opened in 2007. It was followed in 2008 by an 800,000-square-foot facility at 16920 W. Commerce Drive in Goodyear.

Amazon's largest Valley operation, a 1.2 million-square-foot fulfillment center at 4750 W. Mohave St. in Phoenix, was completed last year.

"Over the past four years, we've invested tens of millions of dollars and created hundreds of jobs at our three Phoenix facilities," Dave Clark, vice president of Amazon's North America operations, said in a statement e-mailed to The Arizona Republic. "We look forward to increasing our presence in Arizona with this expansion project, bringing additional dollars and jobs to the state."

Arizona's reluctance to press Amazon to collect sales tax from its Arizona buyers is seen as one of the reasons for the company's continued expansion in the state.

"We are committed to growth in Arizona because Governor Brewer and other state officials have demonstrated their commitment to Amazon jobs and investment," Paul Misener, Amazon's vice president of global public policy, said in a prepared statement.

The company has recently nixed plans to build or expand fulfillment centers in states such as Texas and South Carolina, where it is being pressured to collect and remit sales taxes on purchases made by local residents.

As Amazon continues to add new products such as clothing and groceries, it has been investing heavily in expanding its network of fulfillment centers to store the goods and facilitate their speedy delivery.

Delivery charges and time are seen as a major impediment to online commerce, and Amazon has been diligently working to cut down both.

Many products now ship for free, and in areas such as metro Phoenix with a fulfillment center nearby, they generally arrive in one to two days.

Chief Financial Officer Thomas Szkutak said on the company's earnings conference call in April that the company could build as many as nine facilities this year after opening 13 fulfillment centers in 2010.

He called investments necessary to keep up with the company's growth a "high-quality problem."

The company also recently announced plans to build fulfillment centers in Washington and Indiana.

by Max Jarman The Arizona Republic May. 9, 2011 12:00 AM

Amazon set to expand Phoenix fulfillment center

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