A ray of good news sneaked into the city unannounced this
month: Online giant Amazon finished construction of a distribution center
here, complete with many of the promised 1,000 jobs.
And it happened two weeks ahead of schedule.
Mayor Pat Morris heralded the opening as a step toward recovery for a city whose Aug. 1 bankruptcy filing he said was largely based on a lack of sales tax revenue and jobs, along with "bad decisions."
"We are ecstatic about the fact that they're employing -- right now they're ramping up to employ for the season probably 1,500 people," Morris said. "They've already got hundreds on board, and many more to come."
Amazon will announce the number of jobs at a news conference Thursday, said Laurie Duffy of Taylor Strategy, speaking on behalf of Amazon. Company spokeswomen said they would comment at the conference, timed for the day after the first package is shipped today.
Amazon announced its holiday hiring rate for the first time Monday. Nationwide, it plans to hire more than 50,000 seasonal workers at so-called fulfillment centers like the one in San Bernardino, compared to 69,000 full- and part-time employees worldwide and 20,000 full-time employees at U.S. fulfillment centers, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The company calls facilities like the 950,000-square-foot one it built at the corner of Tippecanoe and Central avenues, at the site of the former Norton Air Force Base,
fulfillment centers. Such facilities handle shipments of Amazon products bought online.
California law allows Amazon to designate which city is a "point of sale" for the purposes of sales tax, with the point of sale -- San Bernardino -- receiving one cent on the dollar for all sales processed through the fulfillment center.
That gives Amazon leverage to demand that some of the sales tax revenue be "shared" with the company, but city and company officials have consistently said that no such agreement was requested.
Work finished Oct. 1, an impressively quick construction pace, said city planner Tony Stewart.
"The building didn't start construction until April, so the fact that they're done so fast shows you how serious everyone is, especially with the lack of staffing we have (at the city)," Stewart said, noting that unlike many projects it was constructed exactly according to plan. "It's one of the better jobs I've seen in my career."
Stewart said the city's planning division has been busy in recent months, largely because of projects by Hillwood, the developer that brought in Amazon.
"We've got a lot of activity going on that I think a lot of cities would be scrambling for," he said.
Councilwoman Virginia Marquez, whose ward includes the center, said she was excited by the opening.
"There's a lot of good going on in the city now, and Amazon is one of those things," she said. "I think this is great for the city."
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