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Amazon opens its doors

Amazon opens its doors

State, local officials to tour facility Wednesday

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In operation since early June, the Amazon fulfillment center in Kenosha has already doubled its projected employment and is poised for more growth.

The Seattle-based online retailer opened the fulfillment center with 1,000 employees, nine months after opening a sortation center with 500 employees.

The company had projected it would have 1,100 full-time associates at its 11211 Burlington Road facility. There are now more than 2,000 employees in the fulfillment center, plus the roughly 500 in the sortation center.

As the holiday season draws near, Amazon is fully operational and is hosting an invitation-only grand opening event Wednesday to introduce 80 state and local public officials and its business partners to its operations.

Gov. Scott Walker is expected to attend, along with state Sen. Robert Wirch, D-Somers; state Rep. Samantha Kerkman, R-Randall; state Rep. Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha; Kenosha Mayor Keith Bosman; and members of the Kenosha City Council and Kenosha County Board.

Company spokeswoman Nina Lindsey said event is also a tribute to the growing number of Amazon business partners, including merchants, manufacturers and marketers. Amazon sells products directly from companies and manufacturers but also provides a conduit for third-party sellers.

Numerous stationsAmazon gave local media a sneak peek of the facility Tuesday, showing four stations — Stow, Pick, Pack and Slam — each featuring state-of-the-art technology in action.

General manager Brian Urkiel said the Kenosha facility can handle 1,200 packages an hour.

In the Pick section, Kiva robots quickly moved stacks of merchandise to stations where associates picked merchandise to place in containers that traveled to another section via conveyor. The center, according to Urkiel, has 10 miles of conveyors and enough steel to build the Eiffel Tower twice.

In the Slam section, an acronym for scan, label, apply and manifest, packages were electronically weighed and labeled.

Economic impact Local officials have touted Amazon’s boon to the region.

While employees come from as far as northern Illinois and Milwaukee, it is listed as one of the largest Kenosha County employers by the Kenosha Area Business Alliance, trailing only the Kenosha Unified School District and United Hospital System.

Amazon has also become involved in community philanthropic activities.

Last Christmas, the company denoted $5,000 in sports equipment to the Kenosha Boys & Girls Club.

At the start of this school year, the company donated $10,000 in school equipment to educators at Jefferson Elementary School.

Indian Trail High School art students used building supplies to craft a sculpture in the foyer of Amazon’s north entrance.

Incorporated in 1994, Amazon has grown from an online bookstore to a multi-billion-dollar corporate operation with 50 U.S. fulfillment centers. Amazon is now listed as the 29th largest company on the Fortune 500.

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