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Amazon announces plans for Hillsborough, Polk warehouses

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Published:   |   Updated: October 22, 2013 at 08:04 PM

TAMPA — Online retailer Amazon officially announced Tuesday what many real estate experts predicted: it will build separate distribution centers in both Ruskin and Lakeland.

Several clues have suggested the deals were imminent, including that developers had started pulling building permits on the sites of both proposed distributions centers. Also, Hillsborough County commissioners revealed earlier this month that Amazon was coming to Ruskin.

However, the Seattle-based Internet giant had stayed silent on its local plans until Tuesday.

“We look forward to offering more than 1,000 full-time jobs with comprehensive benefits at our new fulfillment centers in Hillsborough County and Lakeland, Florida,” said Mike Roth, Amazon’s vice president of North America operations, in a prepared statement.

“We appreciate the state, city and county officials who have worked with us to bring these fulfillment centers to Florida. We’re excited to join the community, bringing great jobs and investment to the area.”

Hillsborough leaders expect Amazon to build a 1 million-square-foot “fulfillment center” inside the South Shore Corporate Park just west of Interstate 75 and north of State Road 674. The company is expected to eventually employ about 1,000 full-time workers in Ruskin and perhaps as many as 1,000 more temporary seasonal workers at peak periods.

Many of the jobs will be low-skill positions involved in sorting and picking customers’ orders, jobs that typically pay around $11.25 an hour, according to job postings for Amazon’s other warehouses around the country. However, at least 375 local jobs are expected to be higher-wage positions at average annual pay of $47,581. Hillsborough County offered the company more than $6 million in economic incentives to persuade it to open in Ruskin and hire workers, and the state will kick in at least $900,000 more.

Gov. Rick Scott last summer negotiated a deal to bring Amazon into the state, which will create jobs but which also means Florida customers will begin paying sales tax on Amazon orders.

“I would like to thank Amazon for recognizing that Florida’s business-friendly environment we’ve helped create is the perfect place for their latest expansion,” Scott said in a prepared statement. “On behalf of all Floridians, we welcome Amazon and the great jobs and opportunities that their expansion brings to Florida families.”

As Amazon has done elsewhere around the country, it will ship large and small products from different warehouses in central Florida. In Ruskin, employees will sort and ship smaller items such as books and electronics to customers, while Lakeland employees will handle larger items such as kayaks and televisions, Amazon said in a news release.

Job-seekers are encouraged to visit www.amazonfulfillmentcareers.com for information on positions.

A firm called Seefried Development Management will develop the Ruskin project for Amazon, while a firm called Johnson Development Associates will develop the Lakeland site along County Line Road. The real estate arm of insurance giant USAA is the landlord for both projects.

msasso@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7865

Twitter: @msasso

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