Posted October 3, 2018

Amazon breaks ground on $325 million Alabama fulfillment center

855,000-square-foot facility will support 1,500 jobs.

The first shovels of dirt were turned Tuesday at the former U.S. Steel site in Bessemer. And in July, after using 82,000 cubic yards of concrete and 10,000 tons of steel, Amazon's first fulfillment center will be open for business on Powder Plant Road.

"It's official: We're expanding in Alabama," said Ryan Lively, operations manager for Amazon, during the groundbreaking ceremony. Gov. Kay Ivey, Bessemer Mayor Kenneth Gulley, U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Hoover, and members of the Jefferson County Commission helped break ground at the site.

The ceremony was held the same day the Seattle-based company announced it will pay its most entry-level employees a $15 minimum wage. Amazon originally planned a $14.65 minimum wage for its eventual Bessemer employees; all of the Bessemer workers will receive "comprehensive benefits that start on day one," Lively said.

"We've always offered competitive wages but today we listened to our associates, and quite frankly, we want to be a leader in the industry, so it was really important to make that decision and put our best foot forward," Lively said.

That $15 minimum wage will be earned by employees who will pack and ship small items, including books, toys, health care products and electronic devices, at the Bessemer facility. Other positions available at the fulfillment center include human resources, information technology and operations management jobs. Lively said those jobs will be posted to around May, pointing out that the tech giant will publicly announce the job openings about two months before the fulfillment center opens.

The $325 million fulfillment center, comprising 855,000 square feet on 133 acres on Powder Plant Road, will support 1,500 jobs. Those numbers don't include jobs from the 2,200 contractors doing work at the site. The site was owned by U.S. Steel until June, when the company sold the property to Amazon.

Millions of dollars in tax incentives helped lure Amazon to build the fulfillment center in Bessemer; the company said it was interested in building a site somewhere in the southeast due to rising demand. Amazon will receive $3.3 million in incentives from Bessemer and $41.7 million in tax breaks from the state over 10 years. The company also agreed to earmark $10,000 toward STEM programs at Bessemer City High School - Lively presented the school with a giant ceremonial check during the groundbreaking ceremony.

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Source:, Howard Koplowitz