Gov. Ivey leads groundbreaking on $325 million Amazon facility in Bessemer
Governor Kay Ivey led a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of Internet retail giant Amazon’s construction of a technologically advanced fulfillment center in Bessemer that will employ 1,500 Alabama workers once the sprawling facility is fully operational in 2019.
“This is a great day for Bessemer, a great day for Amazon and a great day for the state of Alabama,” Ivey said at the ceremony, per a press release.
She added, “Not only is this fulfillment center bringing new opportunities for our people, but it’s also giving Alabamians a chance to work in a high-tech environment.”
Amazon officials joined Ivey and leaders from Jefferson County and the City of Bessemer at the site, where construction is already under way on the important facility. Next to Ivey during the groundbreaking were Congressman Gary Palmer (AL-6) and state Rep. Allen Farley (R-McCalla).
The massive 855,000-square-foot facility is being constructed on 133 acres of property formerly owned by U.S. Steel off Powder Plant Road, located just minutes away from Birmingham. Total investment in the project is $325 million.
Ryan Lively, operations manager for Amazon, said the company’s first Alabama fulfillment center will house the latest technology, including state-of-the-art robotics, to help the 1,500 workers pick, pack and ship items such as books, toys, health care products and electronics items to customers in the Southeast and beyond.
“We expect this building to have its Day 1 before the peak holiday season in 2019,” Lively outlined.
The center is expected to have a huge economic impact on the Birmingham metro-area when all is said and done.
Projections show it will contribute $203 million annually to Jefferson County’s economic output, while adding $123 million to the county’s GDP, according to the study prepared by the Center for Business and Economic Research in the University of Alabama’s Culverhouse School of Business.
Amazon confirmed its plans for the Alabama facility in June 2018. At the time, Bessemer Mayor Kenneth Gulley said the project represented the largest single private investment in the city’s 131-year history.
“We’ve worked on this for quite some time, and it’s so good to see it come to fruition,” Gulley said at the groundbreaking. “We’re excited to have Amazon in our city, and we’re excited about the possibilities it will bring.”
Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce Greg Canfield said the project perfectly aligns with a strategic emphasis to facilitate the growth of technology-related jobs across the Yellowhammer State.
“We’ve made recruiting technology-focused jobs a priority, and Amazon’s presence in the state will help us advance toward our goal.” Secretary Canfield, who also attended the ceremony, explained.
When we talk about how today’s world is quickly evolving, we can look at companies like @Amazon as being a propeller of that movement. Today, I’m excited to join #Amazon for the groundbreaking of their $325 million Bessemer fulfillment center which will create 1,500+ jobs! pic.twitter.com/TbGQalIwTE
— Governor Kay Ivey (@GovernorKayIvey) October 2, 2018
During the event, Amazon presented representatives of Bessemer City Schools with a $10,000 check for STEM programs.
Jefferson County Commissioner David Carrington said he expects the company to be an active community supporter.
“From the first day when I met with the Amazon representatives, they insisted on a bus stop here because they wanted to give young people an opportunity to have a job,” Carrington advised. “The second thing they told is that after a year, they would qualify for a $3,000 tuition assistance program.”
“That gave me a glimpse of what kind of a community partner they would be,” he added.
What an honor to join Amazon today at the groundbreaking ceremony in Bessemer. Working with world class companies as they invest in AL has been one of my proudest accomplishments as Gov. So far AL has received over $8B in investments, creating 16k new jobs and counting! pic.twitter.com/GEVIE305kh
— Kay Ivey (@kayiveyforgov) October 2, 2018
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn