When Amazon.com Inc. announced plans in 2013 to build a fulfillment center in Kenosha, the development at the time was one of the largest economic development projects in southeastern Wisconsin—a $141 million facility expected to employ about 1,500 people.
Fast forward five years and the company’s plans for that Kenosha facility have exceeded all expectations. There are now more than 3,000 employees working at the company’s fulfillment center just off I-94.
And the company is making another significant investment along I-94—this time in Oak Creek, a little more than 20 miles north of its bustling Kenosha facility.
The new fulfillment center will be unlike its counterpart in Kenosha. Amazon employees at the Oak Creek center will work alongside innovative technology including Amazon robotics to pick, pack and ship small items, such as household items, electronics and toys, to customers. Despite the emphasis on automation, the company says it expects to hire about 1,500 workers in Oak Creek, including positions in operations management, human resources, information technology, facilities management, finance and more.
“We are proud to continue investing and creating jobs in the Badger State with a new, state-of-the-art fulfillment center,” the company said in a statement. “Wisconsin has a great workforce and we are excited to add more than 1,500 associates to the amazing team currently helping us raise the bar on operational excellence and delivering outstanding customer experience every day.”
The four-story facility will be located on a 75-acre site in the Ryan Business Park near the Ryan Road/I-94 interchange, said Oak Creek City Administrator Andrew Vickers. Work has already begun on the site, and the building is expected to be ready for occupancy in early 2020. At 2.6 million square feet, the Oak Creek facility will be 70 percent larger than the Kenosha fulfillment center.
“We are happy to have Amazon join the Oak Creek community and create more than 1,500 full-time jobs, making it the city’s largest employer,” said Oak Creek Mayor Dan Bukiewicz. “Amazon has selected a great location—the Oak Creek business park is close to I-94 and poised for future business growth.”
Gale Klappa, co-chair of the Milwaukee 7 regional economic development organization, said the company’s decision to make another major investment in southeastern Wisconsin is a testament to the many strengths of the region.
“We’re delighted that one of the world’s most successful businesses has cast another vote of confidence in Wisconsin,” Klappa said. “This significant investment by Amazon speaks to the competitiveness of our region for global companies and to the strong upward trajectory of our economy.”
The economic impact of the newest facility will extend well beyond Oak Creek. The $100 million being spent on equipment, construction, supplies and other materials will benefit contractors and vendors throughout the region. Once the facility is operational, its workers will patronize local restaurants, gas stations, retailers and other businesses. In fact, an economic modeling study estimates the project could indirectly generate 792 additional jobs in the region. Those indirect jobs coupled with the 1,500 direct jobs could generate nearly $3 million annually in new state income tax.
Another 1,500 direct and indirect jobs could be supported during construction, the analysis shows.
WEDC is working closely with the company and its regional partners on this project, and Secretary and CEO Mark R. Hogan commended the company for again choosing Wisconsin.
“I thank Amazon for its continued commitment to growing in Wisconsin,” Hogan said. “Amazon’s existing distribution center in Kenosha County, which opened in 2015, is a true Wisconsin success story, and the company’s decision to make another major investment in our state is a testament to Wisconsin’s strong business climate and outstanding workforce.”
Amazon currently employs more than 4,000 workers across its Wisconsin operations, and has invested more than $1 billion in the state, including infrastructure and compensation to its employees from 2011 to 2017.
As part of its efforts to be an employer of choice, the company offers full-time employees industry-leading benefits that include comprehensive health care starting on day one of employment, a 401(k) with 50 percent match, up to 20 weeks paid parental leave, and Amazon’s innovative Career Choice program, which prepays 95 percent of tuition for courses in high-demand fields.
Bukiewicz, the Oak Creek mayor, said the company’s Career Choice program is one of the reasons he believes Amazon will become a valued leader in the city’s business community.
“I am especially proud of the excellent higher education incentives Amazon will offer area employees through their Career Choice program,” he said. “Whether you want to be a nurse, engineer, school teacher or something else, Career Choice offers a pathway forward to meet those professional ambitions.”