Amazon Opening New Lehigh Valley Facility, Creating Over 500 New Jobs

By Colin McEvoy on July 21, 2016

An image of 33 Logistics Park in the Chrin Commerce Centre, where the Amazon facility will be established. (photo from Chrin Commerce Center)

An image of 33 Logistics Park in the Chrin Commerce Centre, where the Amazon facility will be established. (photo from Chrin Commerce Center), the largest Internet-based retailer in the United States, has announced they will open a new fulfillment center in the Lehigh Valley, creating more than 500 new full-time jobs.

The 1.1 million square-foot warehouse in the Chrin Commerce Centre in Palmer Township is expected to open before the peak holiday season begins, according to Amazon spokesman Aaron Toso.

The new facility at 1610 Van Buren Road is one of seven warehouses built or planned for the Chrin Commerce Centre, an 800-acre facility for manufacturing, distribution, retail, and office space near the recently-opened Route 33 interchange.

“This project creates a large number of jobs and helps further establish the Lehigh Valley as one of the top e-commerce hubs in the Eastern United States,” said Don Cunningham, President and CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC).

“Our region boasts many economic assets that makes it very appealing for the logistics sector, including available workers, good road and rail access, lower costs than nearby major metropolitan areas, and quick access to the entire East Coast, with one-third of the nation’s consumer market located just a day’s drive away,” Cunningham said.

LVEDC helped facilitate grant funding for the Amazon project through the Northampton County Industrial Development Authority (NCIDA).

The new facility was built and is being leased by Duke Realty, and will handle large and non-traditional items, such as oddly-shaped, unusually-sized, or heavy items unusual from the usual products its customers purchase, according to the company.

Amazon already operates two facilities in the Lehigh Valley, both properties owned by Liberty Property Trust. They include 615,000 square-feet at 705 Boulder Drive, and 483,200 square-foot at 650 Boulder Drive, both of which handle more traditional products.

The Lehigh Valley has experienced a tremendous amount of growth in the e-commerce market in recent years, in part due to the region’s well-developed transportation infrastructure and close proximity to major Northeastern U.S. markets like New York City and Philadelphia.

The e-commerce market employs about 25,000 people regionally, as many as Bethlehem Steel employed during the height of its operation post World-War II. Nationwide, recent online retail reports show a growth of about 15 percent a year, while traditional brick-and-mortar retail grows only about 1 to 2 percent a year.

Other recent e-commerce announcements for the region include Stitch Fix, an online personal shopping service for women that is expected to create 500 jobs with its new Lower Nazareth Township facility, and zulily, a national online retailer that is establishing its first East Coast location on former Bethlehem Steel Corp. land, creating 1,200 new jobs.

Additionally, Walmart celebrated the grand opening last summer of its second e-commerce facility in Bethlehem, this one creating 400 jobs, with others to be added in the future.

The new Amazon facility will include competitive wages of varying ranges depending on job function, Toso said, and employees are immediately eligible for comprehensive benefits that include health insurance, 401(k) with 50 percent match, bonuses, company stock awards and a network of support to help ensure employees succeed.

The company also offers its employees innovative programs like Career Choice, where it pre-pays up to 95 percent of tuition for courses related to in-demand fields, regardless of whether the skills are relevant to a career at Amazon, according to Toso.

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