Amazon to Create 1,500 Jobs in Hampton Roads

by James A. Bacon

Amazon has announced the launch of two state-of-the-art operations facilities in Hampton Roads that will create 1,500 jobs. One is a multi-story robotics fulfillment center in Suffolk, creating 1,000 jobs, and the other a 650,000-square-foot processing center in Chesapeake, creating 500 jobs. Both operations are scheduled to open in 2021.

Since 2010, Amazon invested more than $34 billion in Virginia through its local fulfillment centers, cloud infrastructure, and research facilities. The company operations network in Virginia encompasses more than 10 fulfillment centers, sortation centers, and delivery stations across the state, plus 13 Whole Foods Markets and three Prime Now Hubs.

“We celebrate the addition of two new, high-tech facilities in Suffolk and Chesapeake that will positively benefit the entire Hampton Roads region,” said Governor Ralph Northam in a prepared statement.

It’s not clear from the press release if the Amazon facilities will be serving the local market, as many other Virginia facilities are doing, or if they will deliver goods to a broader geographic area. The statement also did not say how much Amazon will be investing in the distribution centers. Typically, state-of-the-art facilities require investments in the multiple tens of millions of dollars, sometimes more. Regardless, any time a company announces the creation of 1,500 jobs, that’s good news for Virginia.

Even better, there is no mention in the press release of any company-specific state or local subsidies or tax breaks. The company will be eligible to receive benefits from the Port of Virginia Economic and Infrastructure Development Zone Grant Program as well as employee training through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program. But this is not a re-run of the Amazon HQ2 competition in which the company wrung hundreds of millions of dollars of benefits from the state.

Did Amazon ask for more? The press release yields no clues. Perhaps the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, which led the economic-development effort, played hardball. Perhaps the Northam administration decided that, with all the incentives granted the Amazon HQ2 project, it would be politically imprudent to give away more. Whatever the case, the projects should provide a nice boost to the state and local tax base.

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5 responses to “Amazon to Create 1,500 Jobs in Hampton Roads”

  1. I saw HREDA in there, so yes our tax money is being given out. Same for VEDP. These are farty paying jobs from what I saw, if it is a “fulfillment” center, it is the $15 an hour where they treat them like robots and don’t allow them to go to the bathroom.

  2. vaconsumeradvocate Avatar

    Will these jobs increase the average pay in the area? Benefits? What about work conditions? I’ve heard they push these folks super hard and make them work without air conditioning, etc. Hope we’ll explore whether they truly benefit the workers and community or pull the average down.

  3. CrazyJD Avatar

    1500 jobs. Great,…I thnk.

    But be careful what you wish for. From everything I hear, V N’s comments are well taken. The fulfillment centers are an open invitation to a union, except we are right to work state. …. Except that we have a Democratic legislature that might be induced to repeal right to work, which would send Virginia down the tubes as a good business state, affecting all of us badly. Not sure Amazon is of a mind to fix it independently of dreaded government action.

    John Denver comes to mind.
    “My bags are packed
    I’m ready to go …
    I’m [may be] leavin, on a jet plane”

    South Carolina?

    1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
      Reed Fawell 3rd

      Very well stated, CrazyJD – you are the canary on the coal mine. Virginia need to listen to your song. And come to its senses.

      1. CrazyJD Avatar

        A company’s relations with its employees reflect the attitude at the top. It filters down to the front line managers.

        My wife recently went to a meeting of a nonprofit group organized to help people get and keep jobs. One of the mentor/presenters waxed on about how he, as a manager, has to be mindful of how hard it is to be an employee, how they have kids at home, doctor’s appointments, soccer practice, kids in school, kids who are sick etc. etc. etc. ad nauseam. It was the wrong message. What he should have said was “Your employer is going to expect you to show up on time and work the whole time paid” But that being said, not allowing people to go to the bathroom is ludicrous. Then again, so is going to the bathroom 10 times during the day absent some illness.

        In response to this kind of problem, it’s easier to tell managers, “This is the rule. Follow it ” and they do, without much reference to judgment and discretion. This does not distinguish them much from their bosses, and even from judges in courts of law. It is the reason why we have had strict criminal sentencing guidelines in the federal courts for a while. Judgment and its exercise not allowed.

        The best employers walk the fine line between too strict rules and not strict enough. Many times, the line between good and bad is well reflected in my Brit grandfather’s saying, “it’s naht what you say [to an employee], it’s the nahsty way in which you say it”

        The unions are a very very blunt instrument in trying to fix this problem, and they seldom succeed. It is why management consultants in the field of labor-management relations can make so much money.

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