The Chrin Commerce Centre, an industrial park off Route 33 in Palmer Township, soon will be home to Northampton County’s first Amazon warehouse.
Gov. Tom Wolf announced Thursday the online retailer will put fulfillment and distribution centers at new locations throughout Pennsylvania, with the first in the newly built warehouse in Northampton County.
Amazon plans to expand its presence throughout the state, committing to the creation of at least 5,000 full-time jobs, the administration said. Amazon could receive more than $20 million in state money and tax credits if it hires the 5,000 workers.
Amazon has two warehouses in the Breinigsville section of Upper Macungie Township in Lehigh County; this marks the company’s first in Northampton County.
Aaron Toso, Amazon spokesman, said the new center will create more than 500 full-time jobs.
“This building is about one million square feet and will handle larger items. We plan on having it up and running before our holiday peak season,” Toso said in a statement. “In addition to competitive wages, employees are eligible for comprehensive benefits on day one.”
The company could employ upward of 800 people at the Palmer site, said Don Cunningham, president and CEO of Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp.
“This is the continuation of the explosion of e-commerce and fulfillment centers in the Lehigh Valley,” he said. “The Lehigh Valley is kind of ground zero for what’s taking place in the retail sector. Online purchasing requires a whole back economy to serve it.”
While the Palmer Township site is the only new center Amazon committed to, the other locations in the state have not been announced, said Jeff Sheridan, spokesman for Wolf. Amazon already has more than 8,200 jobs in Pennsylvania, Sheridan said.
“They committed to retaining those and bringing 5,000 new jobs,” Sheridan said. “All current statewide employment will be retained for seven years.”
The administration said the company will spend at least $150 million statewide as it hire workers for the full-time jobs.
Its commitment, part of an agreement with the state Department of Community & Economic Development, calls for retaining those jobs for seven years but it could be extended beyond that time frame, Sheridan said.
The company received a funding proposal from the state that includes a $5 million grant, $15 million in tax credits to be distributed upon creation of the new jobs and $2.25 million in employee training funding.
Amazon has to apply and qualify for the funding. All the funding comes from the state DCED, said Heidi Havens, DCED spokeswoman.
The Governor’s Action Team, a group of economic development professionals who report to the governor, coordinated the project.
“We want companies to come here and grow here,” Sheridan said. “We want them to make that footprint even bigger. This is going to affect locations across Pennsylvania.”
As e-commerce grows, so, too, do the buildings created to support these companies.
Now, online retailers such as Wal-Mart and Amazon will be leasing space in multiple industrial buildings in Lehigh and Northampton counties that total more than a million square feet each, a phenomenon unheard of 10 years ago, Cunningham said.
Amazon did not provide details on pay range, types of jobs or opening date.
The company has not released further details on when the site will open, said Kelly Cheeseman, Amazon spokesperson, in a statement. “Additionally, pay varies by position and tenure but generally we pay 30 percent higher than traditional retail jobs. There are a variety of factors we consider when we evaluate where to place a fulfillment center, including proximity to customers and a great workforce – to that end we expect to find great talent in abundance in Palmer Township.”