Amazon to add 800 jobs in Columbia County with distribution center

Amazon plans to build a distribution center near Augusta that will create 800 full-time jobs, according to an announcement by the Seattle company and Gov. Brian Kemp.

The center in Appling will use both employees and robotic technology to “pick, pack, and ship smaller customer orders, such as books, toys, and small household goods.” The joint press release did not say when it would open.

The development represents the single-largest project ever in Columbia County, said Doug Duncan, chair of the county’s board of commissioners.

Amazon currently has more than 3,500 full-time workers in Georgia with facilities in Jefferson, Braselton, Lithia Springs, East Point, Kennesaw, Macon, and Union City.

"We are proud to continue our investment in Georgia," said Robert Packett, regional director of Amazon operations, in a statement.

The announcement came as Kemp eases restrictions so that some businesses, including restaurants, can reopen. But at least in the short run, any hiring by those companies is likely to be dwarfed by the number of jobless workers after the coronavirus pandemic sent the economy into a nosedive.

Since mid-March, more than 1 million Georgians have filed for unemployment benefits — roughly one-fifth of all the working people in the state.

Still, the shutdowns that meant job losses also fueled hiring by grocery stores and delivery companies, including Amazon.

The company has recently said it is adding 1,000 jobs at a new distribution center in Stone Mountain and 500 jobs at a similar Newnan center.

The company also has several facilities in Atlanta and owns a number of Whole Foods stores across the state.

The online retail behemoth already has more than three-quarters of a million employees. It has previously said it is hiring about 100,000 more to handle the surge of online orders triggered by stay-at-home orders in many states.

Jobs at Amazon warehouses in metro Atlanta typically pay about $15 an hour, according to online jobs site Glassdoor. Managerial jobs in those locations pay up to $65,000.