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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Amazon opens massive facility on the West Plains

Potential employees visit the new Amazon facility on Wednesday, just days after employees began working at the massive warehouse on the West Plains.  (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Nearly two years after breaking ground, Amazon opened its fulfillment center on the West Plains this week, bringing more than 2,000 full-time jobs to the area.

The Seattle-based e-commerce giant opened the 640,000-square-foot fulfillment center Sunday at 10010 W. Geiger Blvd., where employees will work alongside Amazon Robotics to pick, pack and ship orders to customers. The facility could eventually employ more than 3,000 workers during the peak holiday season.

Amazon’s fulfillment center on the West Plains is one of the first to open during the coronavirus pandemic. Company officials said they will follow health and safety protocols, including social distancing guidelines.

Amazon is investing more than $800 million this year on safety measures, such as temperature checks, masks, enhanced cleaning, gloves, sanitation stations and onsite testing, according to a company release.

“In these unprecedented times, Amazon remains committed to the health and safety of our employees, partners, and the customers we serve,” Andy Parra, director of operations for the Spokane facility said in a statement.

The company would not confirm if the facility would provide Spokane customers with same-day delivery.

Amazon is continuing to hire for positions at the fulfillment center, Parra said in the release.

Employees will be hired at a $15 minimum wage with benefits such as health, vision and dental insurance, 401(k) with a 50% company match, and up to 20 weeks of paid parental leave. Amazon also offers a career choice program that prepays 95% of employees’ tuition for courses in high-demand fields, such as game design, nursing and IT programming.

“It’s great that they are open,” and have provided jobs in an economy that desperately needs them right now, said Al French, Spokane County Commissioner and board chairman for S3R3 Solutions. “It’s terrific they were the impetus for road and infrastructure improvements going on out there right now. It’s a good win for the economy and couldn’t come at a better time.”

S3R3 Solutions is formerly the West Plains Public Development Authority, which played a significant role in recruiting Amazon to the area.

Amazon’s fulfillment center is spurring additional development with several companies relocating or building facilities on the West Plains, French said, noting developer Harlan Douglass is building a large commerce park adjacent to the fulfillment center.

Amazon publicly revealed plans for the $181 million fulfillment center in July 2018, after months of speculation surrounding a permit application filed Spokane County under “Project Rose.” Amazon officials cited Spokane’s job market as a primary reason to build the fulfillment center in the area.

To commemorate opening of its West Plains fulfillment center, Amazon donated “in-kind” products and $25,000 to Second Harvest Food Bank.

“We are excited to welcome so many new Amazonians to our team here in Spokane,” Parra said. “We’re incredibly inspired by the spirit of this community, and we are proud to support organizations like Second Harvest that help those in need by tirelessly providing nutritious meals and essential services in the Spokane area.”