Amazon continues to hold off on opening Waco fulfillment center – Waco Tribune-Herald


An Amazon spokesperson said “COVID-19 related supply chain constraints” have delayed completion of the company’s fulfillment center on Exchange Parkway. The company’s initial timeline called for the facility to open in 2021.
Amazon, the Seattle-based giant of online shopping and delivery, confirmed the rumors in October 2020 that a robotic fulfillment center would materialize on Waco’s Exchange Parkway. It has arrived, several stories stacked atop a 700,000-square-foot footprint. Hard to miss, indeed, but also mysteriously quiet.
There should be at least 1,000 people toiling there by now, according to the timetable Amazon laid out when it announced the plans during press conference attended by company, local and state officials, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
Explanations vary on why the $200 million facility awaits a crew.
“We are working hard to complete our fulfillment center which has been impacted due to COVID-19 related supply chain constraints,” Amazon spokesperson Daniel Martin said. “It’s common for us to adjust launch timetables based on capacity needs across the network.”
Amazon also is working to meet its staffing needs at a time when the jobless rate in Greater Waco continues to drop. The local economy has moved beyond pandemic recovery to growth, according to reports from economist Karr Ingham, who prepares the monthly Greater Waco Economic Index.
Amazon is not alone in pursuing local talent. New industry announcements were plentiful the past 18 months, with SpaceX in McGregor announcing a $150 million rocket-making addition that would create 400 new jobs by 2026. Envases Group will need about 120 staffers to make aluminum cans in a 450,000-square-foot facility. Knauf Insulation will employ 150 at a 600,000-square-foot plant in McGregor yet to be built.
S2A Modular plans to employ about 200 at a modular home-making facility. Hello Bello, a producer of baby and family-care products, announced its local operation, now up and running, would create 145 positions. The expanded Cargill poultry plant will hire 125.
Berenice Segovia, who manages Workforce Solutions for the Heart of Texas, which is under the direction of the Texas Workforce Commission, said Amazon representatives have attended several job fairs her office hosted.
“The last we spoke, in January, they had more than 200 openings,” Segovia said. “We have not received an update.”
She said she has noticed no resistance to working for Amazon. The company name “carries weight, and they’ve had really good response.”
Local Amazon employees will make at least $15 an hour and will be full-timers, receiving “comprehensive benefits from day one,” Martin said.
An Amazon spokesperson said “COVID-19 related supply chain constraints” have delayed completion of the company’s fulfillment center on Exchange Parkway. The company’s initial timeline called for the facility to open in 2021.
Tanya Walls, who manages Jack of All Trades Personnel Service, said her office provided 25 to 30 construction workers to the contractor erecting the massive Amazon complex, but the relationship has ended, at least for now.
“We thought everything would be happening right after the first of the year, but we’re hearing they still are not ready to open,” Walls said.
In the Waco area generally, there are more jobs available than people willing to fill them, she said.
“We’re really trying to beat the streets to find people we can plug into vacancies,” Walls said. “There are really good-paying jobs out there, a lot of welding jobs, assembly, machine operators. There’s a lot of construction going on in this market, and we’re trying to help in those areas.”
Jake Johnson, vice president of Total Placement Staffing, said it would not surprise him if Amazon is facing challenges filling positions.
“There are ‘now hiring’ signs everywhere you go,” Johnson said. “Waco’s growing. There’s new opportunity. The workforce is trying to catch up to it.”
He said demand is strong for forklift operators, production people, engineers and clerical workers. Pay is increasing accordingly.
“Pay is really going up for those who have a trade,” said Nelissa Davalos, a manager at Snelling personnel services locally.
Davalos said she knows of no local personnel company assisting Amazon with its search, suggesting the company may contract with a national entity to provide such services.
Others said they believe Amazon is tackling the process alone.
McLennan County Judge Scott Felton said he has heard delays in opening the Amazon plant are primarily due to supply chain problems.
Texas State Technical College recently announced plans for a $23 million training center to serve students and non-students pursuing skills in demand by local employers. The city of Waco, McLennan County and TSTC would share construction costs. Businesses, meanwhile, would be recruited to help underwrite costs associated with tools and equipment.
The Amazon fulfillment center at 2000 Exchange Parkway will be one of Waco’s largest structures.
The Amazon fulfillment center at 2000 Exchange Parkway will be one of Waco’s largest structures.
The Amazon fulfillment center at 2000 Exchange Parkway will be one of Waco’s largest structures.
The Amazon fulfillment center at 2000 Exchange Parkway will be one of Waco’s largest structures.
The Amazon fulfillment center at 2000 Exchange Parkway will be one of Waco’s largest structures.
The Amazon fulfillment center at 2000 Exchange Parkway will be one of Waco’s largest structures.
The Amazon fulfillment center at 2000 Exchange Parkway will be one of Waco’s largest structures.
Seen here under construction in November 2020, the new Amazon facility in Waco is expected to open in 2021 and employ about 1,000 people.
Amazon offers internal training for new hires, which local leaders said will help as the company ramps up to 1,000 employees at its new Waco fulfillment center in the next few years. This photo shows the facility under construction in November 2020.
Visible progress is plentiful on the Amazon fulfillment center under construction in Waco in November 2020. Its footprint will cover 700,000 square feet, but with multiple levels, have an estimated 2.69 million square feet of floor space.
Amazon manager Evan Luscher speaks during an Oct. 23 ceremony in Waco to announce a new fulfillment center expected to open next year near Bagby Avenue and Loop 340.
Greater Waco Chamber President Matt Meadors, (from left) Waco City Council Member John Kinnaird and McLennan County Judge Scott Felton look on as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks with Amazon manager Evan Luscher at an Oct. 23 ceremony to formally announce pans for a new Amazon fulfillment center in Waco.
Greater Waco Chamber President Matt Meadors, (back, from left) Waco City Council Member John Kinnaird and McLennan County Judge Scott Felton look on as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (front left) speaks with Amazon manager Evan Luscher at an Oct. 23 ceremony to formally announce pans for a new Amazon fulfillment center in Waco.
Work continues in October 2020 on the site of a new Amazon distribution center near Highway 6 on Exchange Parkway. 
Work continues on the site of a new Amazon distribution center and warehouse on Exchange Parkway in October 2020.
Workers erect metal beams in October 2020 as part of a new distribution center and warehouse for Amazon on Exchange Parkway.
Work continues in October 2020 on the site of a new Amazon distribution center and warehouse near State Highway 6.
Workers build a new Amazon distribution center and warehouse on Exchange Parkway in October 2020.
Workers build a new Amazon facility on Exchange Parkway in Waco in October 2020.
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Mike Copeland is Waco native who attended Baylor University and joined the Tribune-Herald in 1978. He’s been covering local business since 1992.
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An Amazon spokesperson said “COVID-19 related supply chain constraints” have delayed completion of the company’s fulfillment center on Exchange Parkway. The company’s initial timeline called for the facility to open in 2021.
An Amazon spokesperson said “COVID-19 related supply chain constraints” have delayed completion of the company’s fulfillment center on Exchange Parkway. The company’s initial timeline called for the facility to open in 2021.
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