published Friday, April 29th, 2011

Amazon ramps up hiring

  • photo
    The Amazon construction site is near the front gate of the industrial park at Enterprise South. Staff Photo by Tim Barber/Chattanooga Times Free Press

Amazon has stepped up hiring for its massive distribution centers taking shape in Hamilton and Bradley counties.

The world’s No. 1 online retailer has more than a dozen listings for management or technician jobs on its website, though the lion’s share of hiring for the pair of centers still is ahead.

The company has finally put both locations on its careers web page. Earlier, a handful of Tennessee jobs were placed under its Lexington, Ky., location.

J.Ed. Marston, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce’s vice president of marketing, said the beefed up job listings for Amazon’s future Southeast Tennessee sites are an indicator the Seattle-based company is moving ahead.

“In a project like this, we look at every milestone of hiring of local people,” he said. “This is another step along the way.”

Jeff Hentschel of the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development said Amazon has sought the state’s help in filling three posts — a facilities technician, a facilities service technician and a facilities support technician.

The jobs are posted on the department’s database online, and anyone in the state can pull up those slots for more information, he said.

“From there, we’d screen employees for requirements and make referrals,” Hentschel said.

He said that Volkswagen used the department’s Career Centers during its hiring.

Amazon gave no indication when it might open up hiring for the warehouse jobs that will make up most of the employment at the fulfillment centers, Hentschel said.

Amazon did not return an email and phone call seeking comment before deadline for this story.

1,400 jobs

Amazon earlier said it plans to hire more than 1,400 full-time workers along with more than 2,000 seasonal employees later this year to staff its $139 million investment in facilities in Hamilton and Bradley counties. It has said it was looking at conducting job fairs during the summer to help fill many of the jobs.

Seefried Properties of Atlanta, overseeing development of the pair of 1 million-square-foot distribution centers, said it plans to turn over the keys to Amazon by Oct. 1. Amazon officials have said the company wants to be up and running for the busy Christmas season.

Amazon is rapidly building fulfillment centers as the company tries to meet growth. The company’s center at Enterprise South industrial park has giant concrete exterior walls going up.

On Tuesday, the company reported that revenue rose 38 percent in its first quarter to $9.86 billion. However, profit fell 33 percent as it spent more.

Amazon reported it has boosted its head count by 45 percent over the past year to 37,900 employees.

Meanwhile, in Nashville, discussion continues over the financial details used to attract the online retailer to Tennessee.

Matt Kisber, former state Department of Economic and Community Development commissioner, told the Tennessean this week that an agreement not to collect sales taxes from Amazon was based on a legal interpretation made by state revenue officials.

He said they determined the company was not doing sufficient business in Tennessee to create a taxable situation. Kisber said the agreement was not an incentive offered by the administration of then-Gov. Phil Bredesen.

Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, said he would like to see the Department of Revenue ruling on Amazon.

“If you are giving someone a tax exemption that is different from other people in the state of Tennesee that should be public knowledge and I’ll argue that all day long,” Ramsey told the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

On Tuesday, the State Funding Board authorized the state to distribute $7 million in Fast Track grants for the Amazon project, which were earlier agreed to by Bredesen’s administration.

Staff writer Andy Sher contributed to this report.

about Mike Pare...

Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...

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