Amazon unveils Romeoville facility, may hire 8,000 workers by next year
Gov. Bruce Rauner, Romeoville Mayor John Noak and others who helped lure Amazon to Illinois, gathered Thursday to get a look inside the e-commerce giant's new fulfillment center in Romeoville.
The Romeoville facility is one of nine that will employ more than 8,000 workers in Illinois by next year. Two also are operating in Joliet, two in Edwardsville, near St. Louis, while others in Monee and Aurora and will open later this year. It also has Amazon Fresh, a new online grocery shopping business that opened a facility in Wood Dale. Another facility has been leased in Waukegan.
The need for speedier delivery to consumers in the Midwest prompted Amazon to choose these sites in Illinois. As consumers shift more toward online shopping, the need for speed is what drives Amazon. So with available land in the southwest suburbs and Joliet, Amazon has been building the new distribution centers where taxes are lower and an eager workforce is available.
"We have a long-term future here in Illinois," said Victor Davis, general manager of the Romeoville facility.
Thousands of packages are shipping daily to consumers from Romeoville. The site opened in September and already has about 1,000 workers picking, packing and shipping products, such as TVs and kayaks. Countless aisles of shelving in the 750,000-square-foot facility are packed to the ceiling with various products while workers drive vehicles up and down lanes to pick them up. The products then are lined up on high-speed conveyor belts to be packaged and labeled for delivery.
The facility also specially designs boxes for shipping of odd-shaped products to ensure their safe arrival at a consumer's home, Davis said.
While congratulating Amazon on selecting Illinois for its facilities, Rauner also pushed for a balanced budget so more such companies will find Illinois attractive.
"We should be kicking tails here," Rauner said about getting more businesses. "But we're not because regulations and property taxes here are just too high."
While Rauner lauded Amazon for moving into Romeoville without state tax incentives, the company did accept such deals for other facilities. A Joliet facility received $18 million in state incentives and promised 1,500 jobs and $24 million was provided for the second Joliet location with 2,000 jobs. Monee received $30 million with 2,500 projected jobs. And Aurora received about $13 million with 1,200 jobs.
"It is important to note that Amazon must hit the job creation and capital investment benchmarks within the contract to receive any tax credits from the state," said Jacquelyn Reineke, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which oversees business incentive packages.
Asked later about getting the General Assembly to pass a budget, which would pay university and other educational institutions what they need to educate a workforce, Rauner said he may seek a special session soon.
Romeoville Mayor John Noak said that Amazon was eager to get its Romeoville facility running quickly and many worked double shifts to make that possible.
"This facility did not get any incentives from the state or from us," Noak said. "But sometimes just meeting the special needs of a company is just as important. Making decisions and moving quickly makes this possible."