Amazon to create 1,000 jobs in metro Atlanta

Georgia and city officials offered Seattle-based Amazon nearly $2 billion in incentives and perks.

Georgia lost out on the hunt for Amazon’s second headquarters last year, but it won a consolation prize Wednesday when the e-commerce giant announced it would open a warehouse facility in metro Atlanta that will create 1,000 jobs.

The company said the 700,000-square-foot facility — a bit smaller than an average mall — will bridge Gwinnett and DeKalb counties and house workers who will pack and ship customer orders. Employees will also be hired to handle finances, information technology and other roles.

Gov. Brian Kemp, who has faced threats of economic backlash after signing an anti-abortion measure, said the announcement is evidence Georgia “has proven itself as a leading competitor for investment from the world’s most revered companies.”

It's also part of the state's ongoing courtship of Amazon. Georgia offered billions in incentives and Atlanta made the short list for Amazon's massive second headquarters before losing out to New York and Northern Virginia in November.

Documents released to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution offered a glimpse of what the state offered to entice the corporate campus that involved more than $2 billion worth of publicly funded incentives, including an academy to train its employees and an exclusive lounge at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. 

The company later scuttled its New York plans, raising speculation that the Big Apple's loss could be Georgia's gain. But economic development officials were also focused on enticing the tech company to bring smaller developments that still pack a big jobs punch.

The warehouse project fits the bill. The investment would make Amazon one of Gwinnett County’s largest private employers, joining other large firms such as Primerica and Publix.

“The distribution center brings a tremendous financial investment, representing 1,000 new jobs and numerous business opportunities for the local economy,” Gwinnett County Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said.

The company did not immediately disclose how much it will spend, but documents filed with the state suggest the company could spend as much as $200 million on a facility that will produce about $1.5 million in annual tax revenue.

The project, code-named "Project Rocket," has long been the source of intrigue. Gwinnett's County Commission earlier approved plans for an 80-foot-tall warehouse in September off West Park Place Boulevard, just south of U.S. 78. And officials in DeKalb, home to a roughly 12-acre chunk of the site, recently rejected a proposal to build a third entrance.

The Atlanta Regional Commission and the Georgia Road and Tollway Authority also approved the project, and recommended about $15 million of road improvements in the surrounding area, which is an oft-congested thoroughfare.

It was not immediately known how much in incentives were offered to land the project. In response to an open records request from the AJC, an attorney representing the state said Thursday that incentive agreements were still “being drafted and negotiated and have not yet been signed.”

Amazon also did not release the average pay for the jobs at the new facility, though Roy Perticucci, the company’s vice president, said in a statement they involve “industry leading pay and benefits on day one.”

But state officials were hopeful that the warehouse development could be a prelude for more investment. Amazon has previously said it would add to its 17 existing corporate offices and tech hubs, and the company already has a 4,000-employee workforce in Georgia that includes at least 250 tech jobs.

Kemp told Channel 2 Action News it “wouldn’t surprise me” if Amazon announced new projects in Georgia soon.

“We put a good package out there. You don’t always get those things, but we’ve gotten some big ones,” he said, adding there’s “stiff competition from our neighbors here in the Southeast on that, but we’re plugging away every day to keep moving the needle.”

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