By Amy Edelen
Amazon has opened its fulfillment center in Spokane Valley, bringing more than 1,000 new full-time jobs to the area where it already had become one of the largest employers in the region.
The Seattle-based e-commerce company opened the 1.3 million-square-foot non-sort facility Sunday at 18007 E. Garland Ave. At the new location, employees fulfill orders for larger items, including bulk paper goods and cleaning supplies, pet food, patio furniture and outdoor sports equipment.
“We continue to hire for a wide range of roles, everything from receiving and stowing inventory to shipping customer orders and supporting network logistics,” Joe Wistos, general manager of Amazon’s Spokane Valley fulfillment center, said in a statement. “Amazon offers opportunities for professional development and encourages employees as well as interested candidates to consider building a longer-term career with us.”
The Spokane Valley facility will enable faster delivery of larger items to local customers, but same-day delivery may not always occur as it also fulfills orders from areas outside of the region, Amazon spokeswoman Karey Riley-Sawyer said in an email.
Jobs at the Spokane Valley fulfillment center start at $17 per hour with health, dental, vision and 401(k) benefits beginning the first day of employment, according to the company.
After a year of employment, workers are also eligible for Amazon’s Career Choice program. It prepays 95% of tuition for courses in high-demand fields, such as game design, nursing and IT programming.
“The City of Spokane Valley welcomes this new Amazon facility to our diverse and growing business community,” Ben Wick, mayor of Spokane Valley, said in a statement. “Amazon brings great jobs with great pay and benefits as well as opportunities for longer-term careers. This will help working families across our region.”
The city has been working extensively on several improvements to Barker Road near the new fulfillment center, including the $26 million Barker Road Grade Separation Project that will replace an existing BNSF railroad crossing with an overpass to improve traffic safety.
The project, which is slated for completion next year, also includes a roundabout at the intersection of Barker Road and Trent Avenue, Jeff Kleingartner, spokesman for the city of Spokane Valley, said in an email.
Amazon publicly revealed plans for the Spokane Valley fulfillment center in February, following months of speculation on whether it was involved in a large warehouse development called “Project Fireball” in a permit application filed with the city.
Amazon’s 4,000 jobs at its Airway Heights fulfillment center combined with the 1,000 positions at the Spokane Valley facility makes the company the second-largest private employer and fourth-largest employer in Spokane County.
Amazon’s growing presence is likely to spur interest from other e-commerce companies looking to relocate to the region, said Gary Ballew, vice president of economic development for Greater Spokane Incorporated.
“When you have a company like Amazon making investments in the community, word gets around and people start to notice,” he said.
Ballew said he anticipates the e-commerce sector to continue growing in Spokane as more consumers gravitate to shopping online – a national trend accelerated by the pandemic.
Amazon is also opening a “last-mile” delivery station next year at 11901 W. McFarlane Road that will bring hundreds of jobs with a starting wage of $17 an hour. In addition, the company is planning to lease an air-cargo facility at Spokane International Airport.