Amazon centers in Patterson, Tracy begin shipments

10/16/2013 11:53 AM

10/16/2013 5:16 PM

A curtain rod set left Patterson this week, the most important curtain rod set in the area’s history. Bound for a customer in Florida, it was the first item sent from Amazon’s distribution center, according to a news release from the Internet retail giant.

The 1 million-square-foot distribution center, built in the Keystone Business Park, employs more than 300 people and is looking to hire more for the holidays, officials said.

Amazon officials said they also have opened their distribution center in Tracy, which hired 400 people. The first item shipped there: the book “Raising the Bar,” headed to a recipient in Menlo Park.

The facilities join 87 other distribution centers Amazon operates around the world. And they hit the ground running, as the busy holiday season is quickly approaching.

Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Cheeseman said a grand-opening celebration will be planned after the holidays.

Companywide, Amazon is hiring 70,000 people for the holiday season. Of those, 1,000 jobs will land in Patterson and Tracy.

“These are full-time jobs and could lead to long-term roles in our sites,” Cheeseman said in an email.

She said Amazon does not release information on how many people are hired from specific regions, but added, “I can tell you we have been so impressed by the talented individuals we have found in the local community.”

Originally identifying the Amazon center only as the rather mysterious “Project X,” city staff wrote in a City Council report in early 2012 that the effort could bring as many as 1,500 jobs. That speculation was based on Amazon distribution centers in other areas; until Wednesday, the official word from the company was only that “hundreds” would be hired.

Patterson Mayor Luis Molina praised the opening as a “shot in the arm we’re excited for,” pointing out that 300 employees need to eat, get haircuts and access other services that will have a broader impact on the region as a whole. He gave credit to earlier City Councils for planning that attracted distribution centers including Kohl’s, CVS Caremark and Grainger Industrial Supply, and now Amazon.

“We have noticed many employee cars in the Amazon parking lot seven days a week, and we know that they are gearing up for a big holiday shopping season,” City Manager Rod Butler said in an email. “Amazon’s arrival in Patterson has brought new employment opportunities, new customers for our local businesses, new residents and great exposure for our city as we seek to diversify our economy.”

City officials hope Amazon is just the beginning. They have said other companies are expressing interest in locating in the area as well, with its enviable easy access to Interstate 5.

“This is what we should be doing,” Molina said. “It’s a very exciting time.”

Information on seasonal and other jobs at Amazon is available at www.amazonfulfillmentcareers.com.

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