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Amazon announces strategy, jobs

Amazon in December confirmed the nearly $4.6 million purchase of close to 95 acres in Northgate Commerce Park near the Chesapeake city line and minutes from Interstate 664 and the Port of Virginia.

On Tuesday, it formalized its foray into the fabric of the city as Gov. Ralph Northam touted the new fulfillment center during a press conference at the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center. The new facility checks in at an immodest 822,833-square-feet, and at 95 feet and four-and-a-half stories high, it would have an overall square footage of more than 3.8 million.

That would make it the largest industrial building in the state, and second largest building overall after the Pentagon, according to city Economic Development Director Kevin Hughes. He said the site plan for the facility was approved in December, and dirt is already moving at the site.

Local officials, including Mayor Linda T. Johnson, along with other community leaders, were also in attendance, as well as Amazon Vice President of Workforce Development Ardine Williams.

The company already has six fulfillment and sortation centers and four delivery stations in Virginia. Tuesday’s announcements at the event centered on a new robotics fulfillment center in Suffolk and a new, 650,000-square-foot processing center in Chesapeake.

“The facility in Suffolk will be the company’s first robotics fulfillment center in the state, strengthening an already robust network of more than 10 fulfillment, sortation and last mile delivery centers,” stated a handout given to attendees at Tuesday’s event. “Associates at the Suffolk fulfillment center will work alongside robotics and innovative technologies to pick, pack and ship smaller-sized customer orders, such as books, toys, electronics and home goods.”

Officials said the two facilities combined would create 1,500 new full-time jobs. The company boasted of its benefits package at Tuesday’s event, including its $15 minimum wage and up to 20 weeks of paid maternal and paternal leave. It also offers a tuition payment program for courses in in-demand fields.

The company also released new economic impact data that points to its continued investment throughout Virginia, including its planned East Coast headquarters in the Northern Virginia city of Arlington, where the company is investing $2.5 billion and said it would create 25,000 new full-time jobs.

A July Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance report stated that the alliance, city officials, the Port of Virginia and the Hampton Roads Workforce Council met with company representatives who were looking into a site in Suffolk for a fulfillment center that would employ about 1,000 workers.

According to the proposal Seefried Development Services filed with the Army Corps of Engineers on the land, the fulfillment center would be built “to meet increasing e-commerce demand to serve the Hampton Roads region.”