published Saturday, September 17th, 2011 offers jobs to 1,500 in Chattanooga and Bradley County

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
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
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Internet retailer Amazon, fast-tracking the ramp-up of new distribution centers in Hamilton and Bradley counties, has offered jobs to about 1,500 people so far.

Local officials say the hiring effort is one of the quickest undertaken by a company doing business here. Amazon began taking applications for the bulk of its work force in mid-May.

Samantha Cermak, Amazon's senior human resources manager locally, said the company has interviewed 5,000 applicants to date as it tries to staff its two massive new facilities for the busy Christmas season.

"We're thrilled with the number and quality of applicants," she said.

Amazon's distribution centers in Hamilton and Bradley counties could help bring jobs to nearly 10 percent of the unemployed in those counties, figures show. In July, there were 14,590 unemployed in Hamilton and 4,730 in Bradley, according to state figures.

The company said it has received more than 6,000 applications for jobs at the pair of 1 million-square-foot distribution centers.

Cermak said the nation's No. 1 web-based retailer recently finished a five-week stint of interviews at Chattanooga State Community College's East Campus on Lee Highway.

Jeff Olingy, vice president of economic and community development at Chattanooga State, said it's the first time the college has provided a new business with comprehensive services such as one of its campuses for weeks at a time along with security and food.

"We hosted them for five weeks during their pre-selection process, interviews and job offers," he said. Olingy said the Seattle-based company reimbursed the college for the ancillary services.

Bradley Site

On Thursday, the Atlanta company developing the two fulfillment centers turned over the Bradley site near Charleston, Tenn., to Amazon for it to start occupying.

Charles Wells of Seefried Industrial Properties said his company is "real close" to turning over the Chattanooga location at Enterprise South industrial park to Amazon. He said that should happen at the end of this month.

Amazon has said it's investing about $139 million in the two centers and plans to hire 1,600 full-time employees and as many as 2,000 part-timers during the holiday season.

J.Ed. Marston, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's vice president of marketing, said the pace of the Amazon project is extraordinary and the fastest in his decade with the business group.

"It's a record breaker," he said. "That's one of the things that, as a job-creating organization ... has excited us about the project."

According to Amazon, its first group of workers will start this month.

Cermak said the support locally is helpful to the company.

She said the college's East Campus was "a great venue" and cited "incredible staff support" to the business.

Olingy said Chattanooga State's aim is to offer "a turnkey solution" to businesses. He said the college plans to work to help Amazon with personnel training, though that will likely take place early next year.

"We're ready to do whatever they need when they need it," Olingy said.

Amazon has said most of the new hires will start at more than $10 an hour. For permanent employees, Amazon offers variable cash pay for performance and some restricted shares of stock.

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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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rolando said...

Hey, this Amazon thing looks like a great business to run out of Dodge, with all those new jobs it is bringing in to ruin our failing economy and the county itself. It is a capitalist's plan to destroy the country.

Let's force them to pay sales tax on all that stuff they sell here online. Can't have them comin' in here and bringing new jobs, nosireebob.

Why, next thing you know other folks will start small businesses nearby...and create even more jobs. Good Heavens, NO! Think what will do to Tennessee's reputation! JOBS! More sales taxes from all those new workers buying stuff with their new Amazon income! Stand up and cry, "NO!"

I wonder how those 1,600 new employees feel about all those socialist-destroying jobs...I'll bet they are screaming for union oversight and control of their jobs.

What? The giant Amazon trying to improve our economy? With The Hussein in charge? You are kidding, right?

[I am. The above is pure sarcasm against our homegrown, inbred, idiot legislators -- on WallyWorld's and other "lobbyists'" payroll -- who would tax Amazon and its new jobs out of Tennessee.]

September 17, 2011 at 5:38 a.m.
rolando said...

Thanks to the TFP folks for removing all those spammers who continuously post here. Great job, people.

September 17, 2011 at 5:41 a.m.
328Kwebsite said...

They didn't create any jobs. They stole employees from other existing businesses. Creating jobs would involve hiring the unemployed.

The unemployed include returning war veterans who came home just in time to see corporate sycophants destroy the economy through fraud for profit. Amazon has created, on their own, and implemented, of their own, a policy that discriminates against hiring returning war veterans.

Welcome to the Volunteer State, Amazon. Take your policy discriminating against unemployed veterans and get the hell out.

Directly damaging other businesses by taking their employees, while refusing to hire the unemployed, is not justification for a multi-million dollar tax break. Amazon is not creating anything. They are only taking from others, as a matter of advertised policy.

Amazon's refusal to hire the unemployed is a clear example of why we should stand up for our people by enforcing the tax break agreement, upon Amazon. Their actions are prejudicial and discriminatory. It's not only socially unfair, it's intellectually below the standard that we expect from stable commercial operations.

Stupid and wrong are good characterizations of Amazon's conduct, locally, when it comes to money.

Amazon's failure to fulfill its half of their tax break agreement is the leading reason why they need to be ordered to pay back every cent of the tax breaks they have received.

Stealing equity and making competition harder for Tennessee's businesses so that Amazon can evade taxes all over the US is not acceptable. We are not here to support more unethical conduct from Wall Street types: their intellectual failures in fraud directly caused the 2008 financial crisis.

Once again we see that the removal of regulation immediately encourages the stupidest and most self-destructive behavior to business, by business. Amazon will suffer as a result of their own failure to face reality in their quest for profit. We should insulate our community from their intellectual failures in progress.

Misusing our educational institutions by businesses like Wacker, Amazon and Volkswagon is also not acceptable. Our taxpayers are not here to take in their overhead on training. Cover your own costs, Corporate Freeloaders. We know you won't cover them if you fail.

Today's welfare case looks like Amazon. We should take care of our own. This outside corporation has demonstrated, by their own initiative, that they won't even take care of themselves. They are not worth our trust or our tax money.

September 17, 2011 at 7:40 a.m.
hcirehttae said...

328K -- You are exactly right and you hit the nail on the head. Keep telling it like it is, brother (or sister).

September 17, 2011 at 9:41 a.m.
LibDem said...

I've spoken with one guy who is starting with Amazon in a week or so. He's quitting his current job next Saturday.

September 17, 2011 at 12:03 p.m.
obama4president said...

328K -- Where do you get your information about Amazon's hiring policy regarding veterans? Why not check the employment section of their website, where you will see that they actively recruit and hire returning veterans?

But, even if you were correct, your logic that this is not job creation is seriously flawed. IF they "stole" employees from other existing businesses, it means that the existing local businesses now need new employees and there is still a job opening somewhere for every one of these new positions. It would also mean that the jobs that they are offering are more attractive in some way than the jobs employees of other local businesses are willing to leave.

To say that Amazon, or anyone else, could be "directly damaging other businesses by taking their employees" is nonsense. There are many, unemployed and underemployed, just waiting for a job opening anywhere. These other businesses will have no trouble filling their, now vacant, positions.

September 17, 2011 at 1:03 p.m.
511acr said...

I went through the interview process with Amazon. I am currently employed and was looking for a new challenge. I work as an industrial electronics engineering tech and am more than qualified for the positions Amazon had to offer. Amazon saw that I was qualified as well. When it finally came to the pay, they offered $15.00 per hour. I am not greedy, but I am versed in many skill sets in the electrical,electronics, and mechanical fields. I spoke with people I knew who also went through the process and were insultingly offered less. Needless to say, I turned it down. The bottom line is here we have a company that is making billions worldwide and more than likely are not paying their employees squat. I didn't care about the tax issue, but after the offer that was made to me, researching their profitability, and their arrogance of dictating to the state that if they have to pay taxes on sales they will pull out, then I feel it is necessary to rethink my doing business with Amazon.

September 17, 2011 at 1:12 p.m.
obama4president said...

LibDem -- Can you expand a little more, without disclosing the identity of the business, on the type of job your friend is leaving and the type of job he is moving to at Amazon? How long was he at the current job that he is leaving? Is his new position a major step up for him? In any case, congratulations to him and to the new hire that will now be given the opportunity to fill his old position.

511acr -- You are a great example of an employee that Amazon could not steal.

September 17, 2011 at 1:18 p.m.
LibDem said...

obama4president, This guy is moving from a parttime job with no benefits. It's definitely an upgrade, otherwise he wouldn't have accepted. Beyond that, I'd rather not divulge.

I can't see a problem with your logic - the distribution center should result in a net increase in jobs.

September 17, 2011 at 1:30 p.m.
LibDem said...

I should qualify the " increase in jobs.." comment.

Amazon will build and staff the distribution centers it needs to conduct its business creating perhaps 2,500 jobs. The exact location is determined by which state/locality is willing to make the greatest concessions. If no concessions are granted, the location of the 2,500 jobs would be determined by geography, transportation, available workforce, etc. In either case, the jobs will be created. Tennessee/Hamilton/Bradley won the grovel contest.

September 17, 2011 at 2:42 p.m.
rolando said...

They didn't create any jobs. They stole employees from other existing businesses. Creating jobs would involve hiring the unemployed.

And you know that exactly how,328k?

September 17, 2011 at 3:07 p.m.
rolando said...

acer said, I am not greedy, but I am versed in many skill sets in the electrical,electronics, and mechanical fields.

No, acer, sounds to me like you are overqualified for a job at Amazon -- you implied that yourself -- and will move on to the next you are doing with your current one. I suspect they may be looking for people who will return Amazon's investment in their training...which evidently rules you out.

I will continue buying from Amazon, not "Buy Chinese" WallyWorld...

September 17, 2011 at 3:12 p.m.
nucanuck said...

Since jobs are fugible, the Amazon jobs add to the local total, at least initially. Nothing about Amazon increases total retail sales however. As a more efficient marketer than a fixed place retail store, Amazon will need far fewer employees to achieve the equivalent sales volume of their in-place competition. What that means is that the more that Amazon's (and other on-line retail) sales increase, the more traditional retail jobs will be terminated.

On-line retailers actually destroy more jobs than they create. They are more efficient and maybe that is the way of the future, but the country will have fewer,not more, net retail jobs as on-line continues to grow.

We can see and count the people that Amazon hires here in Chattanooga, we cant see the people that will be displaced throughout the fixed site retail environment. And maybe we don't care. We got ours, let the others fend for themselves.

September 17, 2011 at 3:34 p.m.
obama4president said...

I'm not necessarily a total supporter of the idea of Amazons and other humongous (Walmart) corporations taking over our economy. Both of these behemoths have been created by consumers voting against their own best interests to obtain material goods at the lowest prices possible. The general public has voted this new economy into existence with their collective wallets and pocketbooks. It is rather incredible how uninformed consumers and voters consistently vote against their own best interests, and, as long as they continue to do so Amazons and Walmarts will gain more and more power, along with Republicans and all of the other huge corporations that do absolutely nothing to support the smaller, local "little guys".

Whether we like it, or not, those displaced by the online retail phenomenon will be displaced whether Amazon is here, or not . They will even, most likely, be displaced whether Amazon exists anywhere, or not (another behemoth will start a business). Online retailing is a reality of our current and, most likely future, world.

That being said, Amazon is a very efficient, effective and successful online retailer. Amazon provides the service of reaching a very large audience and having a very efficient method of order fulfillment. It should also be noted that Amazon and Walmart both support smaller, local retailers and farmers more than we give them credit for. Amazon allows small "mom-and-pop" retailers to sell through their website and will even handle fulfillment for them. Walmart has a program of trying products from small, local retailers and farmers in their nearby stores and then promoting some of those products to regional and/or national distribution if they are successful. You can "vote" for more support of these smaller, local companies by searching out and buying their products instead of the cheap, Chinese knock-offs when you inevitably do your shopping at Walmart and Amazon.

This new paradigm is the world that we now live in. Having the Amazon's of this new economy in our area better equips us for our own survival.

September 17, 2011 at 5:09 p.m.
bearhunter said...

simple math one leaves. to go to another job than there is still a job open for someone it might not be the company yuo want but a job.

September 17, 2011 at 5:37 p.m.
Echo said...

Big laffs from all the unwashed hippie dopers, NEA members, and 26 year old undergraduates who never have worked in the private sector and ignorant of the interdependence between large businesses, small businesses, and shareholders. Speaking of shareholders, anyone can become one for less than the cost of basic cable or a two pack habit. These anti-growthniks never produce anything of real value. They're the terminally disenchanted whenever anyone is successful because they are so afraid to separate from the teat, they believe anyone that has is cheating. They believe that economies are a finite pie to be divided, and not an endless well of opportunity restricted only by imagination and the willingness to work hard and dream big. Every single company begins with with a single person and an idea. For every Henry Ford, Steven Jobs, Andrew Carnegie, or Oprah Winfrey there are 10,000 whiny failures who just don't get it. Our economy will improve when we send the current one living at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Wash. D.C. back to the South Side of Chicago.

September 17, 2011 at 6:37 p.m.
nucanuck said...

Echo, someday you may know how little you now know.

September 17, 2011 at 8:02 p.m.
tnbound said...

328K - Where is the evidence to substantiate your claims? I have seen no evidence that Amazon has a policy against hiring veterans. In fact, I know many veterans who are employed by Amazon. As was already mentioned, the employment page of their website has an entire section devoted to hiring veterans.

Federal Minimum Wage Rate is $7.25/hour. According to the article, most of the new employees will start at over $10/hr and will be eligible for performance bonuses and restriced stock grants. It's not a 6 figure salary, but it's not squat either. And if benefits are included, as they usually are with large corporations, this sounds even better.

For some reason, people think that building a warehouse in an area is going to somehow increase Amazon customers in that state. There may be a few, but not enough to significantly increase business with individuals in Tennessee (who should be submitting use tax anyways on their own - but don't usually do so.) However, 1500 new employees that live here will increase the sales tax revenues to the state as they shop at local grocery stores, shopping malls, and even...Wal-Mart.

September 18, 2011 at 12:24 a.m.
maribelclark said...

Unemployment numbers are comprised of those that are in the job market for the past 30 days. It does not include those that have not been in the job market in the last 30 days: people who have given up looking; those that have gone off unemployment because it has run out. One solution to unemployment is "High Speed University" check it out

September 18, 2011 at 2:53 a.m.
rolando said...

So increasing the size of a business by building new distributing centers destroys jobs, hucanuck? Only if it forces smaller business to close -- the California Legislature just did that by trying to tax Amazon; they said they were too big a market to close.

Yeah, right. Amazon merely severed its relationship with all third party suppliers in Calif...and increased the number elsewhere. They just refused to buckle under to a government on something the SCOTUS has determined is nexus-free.

But I suppose you could say that Amazon closed those small would be sorta kinda correct. Just as would happen here should the Legislature push its luck...throwing those 1600 people back on unemployment.

By the way, even if all 1600 people leave existing jobs for Amazon employ, that is called "building a better mousetrap."

September 18, 2011 at 6:50 p.m.

What the article DOESN'T say is that those jobs were with a staffing company, not "Amazon"! And what it REALLY doesn't say is that those jobs were TEMPORARY! How many of those 1,500 people are still working at Amazon?? Not many would be my guess!! Most were let go due to "lack of work" like I was.

January 7, 2012 at 12:18 p.m.
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