Lebanon Amazon Fulfillment Center grand openingPosted: Updated:
Two years after Amazon announced plans for a new warehouse in Lebanon, local officials are celebrating the building's grand opening.
This distribution center ships the items you order online, but the county mayor said it's also a big boost to the community.
Eddie Gale, of Lebanon, quit his job as a forensic scientist because of the long hours - little did he know it would be so hard to find another one.
"Life was a little bit more difficult because it was hard to find jobs in an area that was close by and paid well," Gale said.
He's now found a new calling working at the new Amazon Fulfillment Center, 500 Duke Rd. in Lebanon, but his old job and new one go hand-in-hand.
"Attention to detail was important in forensics, but attention to detail is just as important because you want to be sure that you get the customer taken care of, just like you would want to make sure a crime scene is done properly," Gale said.
The state-of-the-art, 1.2-million-square-foot facility, the size of 25 football fields, opened in February. The grand opening was held Thursday.
Just three weeks ago, the company installed a box-on-demand system, customizing boxes to fit each product. Company officials said the warehouse is now able to operate more efficiently.
The location employs 500 people, and an additional 200 seasonal workers will be hired.
Before Amazon, the unemployment rate in Wilson County was 7.9 percent, now it's 6.2 percent, the third lowest in the state.
"Amazon was a factor - it is making it that low," said County Mayor Randall Hutto. "That's something that we're always struggling to find to bring jobs in here."
Hutto said landing Amazon gives the county more clot to bring in other big companies, something that's already in the works.
"There are two or three good opportunities on the horizon out there for Wilson County, but they keep those under wraps, so I really can't disclose that," Hutto said.
In January 2014, Amazon will begin collecting sales taxes on all their internet sales in Tennessee, and with the millions of products folks in the state are purchasing, that's a lot of money.
"Amazon strongly supports the federal Marketplace Fairness Act now pending before Congress, which is the only way to level the playing field for all sellers and enable Tennessee to collect more than a fraction of the revenue already owed," said Ty Rogers, with Amazon corporate communications.
Gale said Amazon has been a lifesaver for him, not just providing a job, but for his health as well.
"I've been able to lose medications because I got into better shape," Gale said. "I've lost about 25 or 35 pounds since I've been here."
Two other Tennessee cities, Murfreesboro and Chattanooga, also have Amazon Fulfillment Centers.
To put things into perspective, during Black Friday last year, Amazon Distribution Centers across the country processed more than 300 items every minute.
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