GRESHAM, Ore. (GRESHAM OUTLOOK) — Amazon.com has committed to creating 1,050 full-time jobs at a planned distribution center in Troutdale. Staffers at City Hall expect the actual number to be much higher.
“The expectation is — the reality is that it’s going to be more like double that,” Finance Director Erich Mueller said during a City Council meeting Tuesday, May 23. “And then another significant increase of that from a seasonal standpoint during the holiday season.”
The e-commerce giant now says it will spend roughly $178.4 million to build a 855,000-square-foot “robotics fulfillment center” in a 74-acre lot located on Northwest Swigert Way just north of Troutdale Airport.
In exchange for the massive investment in new machinery and infrastructure, Amazon will receive a five-year tax break worth approximately $9.6 million.
Troutdale will then claw back 25 percent of that tax abatement, sending about $2.4 million into city coffers. That leaves Amazon with a still-healthy net savings of $7.2 million.
“The city of Troutdale essentially gets all of the property taxes they would have gotten without (a tax break),” commented City Manager Ray Young. “It doesn’t cost the city a dime to approve this.”
City leaders say Amazon’s footprint in Oregon will double with the new construction. The company already employs 1,000 statewide, with most working in distribution or at data centers, a separate division of the corporation valued at $479.52 billion by investors.
The new workforce will consist of 1,000 warehouse associates and 50 in managerial positions. Blueprints for the distribution building call for closer to 2,200 parking stalls, suggesting that actual staffing at the warehouse could be significantly higher.
Amazon’s investment breaks down to $64.1 million in construction costs, $27.3 million for fixed machinery and another $86.9 million for movable equipment and other items, according to an application submitted by Property Tax Manager Brigit Dubois.
As a condition of building inside a state-sponsored Enterprise Zone, Amazon has agreed to pay workers at least 125 percent of the minimum wage (or $12.19 an hour), buy building materials locally and use WorkSource Oregon for recruitment efforts. Health-care benefits can be factored in when calculating salaries.
During the council meeting, Mayor Casey Ryan mentioned that he had already teleconferenced with Amazon employees regarding the company’s planned philanthropy.
“They give to the schools, they give Kindles — and the interesting thing is they’re asking our opinion on it,” he noted. “They’re not just coming in and saying we’re going to write a check. I think it will be a long-term partnership with them. Very impressive.”
Amazon already operates 100 processing centers across the U.S., with plans to add many more. It has publicly pledged to create 100,000 jobs over the next year, as reported in the national news media and in publicity statements.
Construction of the warehouse — located next to a FedEx distribution facility in the Troutdale Reynolds Industrial park — is scheduled to begin in 2017. All installation work should wrap by July 2018.
The Troutdale City Council voted unanimously to give Amazon a five-year tax abatement, which will begin in 2019.
Amazon has not yet signed a long-term lease with Trammell Crow Company, the firm that will build and rent out the warehouse.
The Gresham Outlook is a KOIN media partner.