By Amanda C. Coyne, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution #atlanta-ga
Gov. Brian Kemp and Gwinnett County leaders marked the completion of a massive new Amazon distribution facility near Stone Mountain on Tuesday.
The 700,000-square-foot warehouse near U.S. 78 is the first Amazon distribution center in Georgia to utilize state-of-the-art robotics technology, said Rob Packett, Amazon’s director of operations. The facility is also expected to create 1,000 jobs, from workers on the warehouse floor to employees managing finances and technology.
“From advanced manufacturing to leading-edge cyber innovation, we are proud to work with job creators to secure mutual success and a brighter future for Georgia,” said Kemp, who used the occasion to announce Georgia had once again been ranked the top state to do business by Area Development magazine, a niche business publication.
After the Tuesday afternoon announcement, Kemp toured the recently completed facility. Amazon officials showed the governor a sprawling mechanized section of the building designed for robots to easily navigate thousands of yellow storage units. Whirring blue wheeled robotic “drive units” rumbled along the grey floor, carrying stacks of storage “pods” and using bar codes plastered along the route to navigate.
On the ground floor, gleaming metal conveyor belts carved elevated winding paths where products will be channeled to waiting delivery trucks. A short walk away, a yellow robotic arm stood ready to sort hundreds of items an hour. Employees will work with the cutting-edge technology to process thousands of packages each day.
The new facility is expected to be up and running before the holiday season, according to Amazon. It has not yet begun operations.
Amazon is hiring for the new facility now. Warehouse workers can earn between $15 and $17.50 an hour. Those hired for warehouse positions also have the opportunity to get free on-the-job training in operating powered industrial trucks. Jobs for the Stone Mountain facility are listed on amazon.jobs.
Those positions were a key reason Gwinnett worked to bring Amazon into the county, Board of Commissioners Chairman Charlotte Nash said.
“We want to make sure there are good jobs available for people who need those jobs,” Nash said.
The project was approved by Gwinnett County commissioners in July 2018, before the county knew for sure which company was planning on using the space, though Amazon was heavily suspected. Nearly a year later, it was publicly revealed that Amazon would occupy the facility previously known publicly only as “Project Rocket.” State documents released in 2019 indicate Amazon could invest up to $200 million in the property.
The project has had ripple effects in the surrounding area. Gwinnett commissioners approved a $2.17 million contract last year to upgrade the roads leading to the facility, adding turn lanes, sidewalks and traffic lights.
“Amazon’s presence in Georgia means more than just great jobs with great benefits within these four walls,” Packett said.