Amazon Creates Over 1,000 Jobs For Greater St. Petersburg – Tampa Area, Good News!
What’s one of the main reasons our local economy hasn’t experienced a more rapid improvement? Jobs. There simply aren’t enough of them to meet the needs of the greater St. Petersburg – Tampa area. But that’s about to change, at least in part.
Amazon, arguably the world’s largest online retailer, is poised to create over 1,000 full-time jobs, and even more seasonal jobs in Hillsborough and Polk counties once they open two new fulfillment centers in Ruskin and Lakeland. Site work has already begun on both new locations.
The 1.1-million-square-foot Ruskin warehouse center will be located within a 1,000-acre corporate park at Interstate 75 and State Road 674. The smaller Lakeland operation will be located at 1760 County Line Road. Both locations will benefit from excellent nearby transportation infrastructure, which will also be a boon to workers commuting from the surrounding areas.
And both locations are currently in economically challenged areas. Ruskin was targeted as a major growth area before the real estate market tanked in the late 2000s. Since then, jobs have been scarce and growth has been next to nonexistent. Those who have stuck around the area see the Amazon announcement as a first step toward attracting other companies to Florida and to the St. Petersburg – Tampa area.
This could be the major job creation coup Southwest Florida has been waiting for. Local officials and residents are excited at the prospect that relatively high paying jobs will be created, which could be a boon to just about every facet of the overall market in Hillsborough, Polk, Pinellas and even Manatee counties.
In all, Seattle-based Amazon will invest over $200 million in state-of-the-art facilities here. Additional fulfillment centers are also under consideration as part of Amazon’s over $300 million commitment to its expansion into the Florida market.
The two centers will each process different types of Amazon orders. The Ruskin center will fulfill smaller orders like books, electronics and consumer goods while the Lakeland center will process larger orders such as kayaks and large televisions.
Amazon is expecting revenue of around $75 billion in 2014.
Job Progress Comes At A Cost for Hillsborough & Polk Counties
The Amazon deal does not come without a cost. Hillsborough County has approved $6.4 million in financial incentives, mostly in the form of property tax breaks over seven years starting in 2016, and Polk County has antied up $4.5 million. Both tax packages require that Amazon create over 475 above-average paying jobs.
The other costs will be borne by Amazon’s Florida customers who will be required to pay state sales tax on everything they order. Up until now, Amazon has not collected online sales taxes in Florida since it did not have a physical presence in the state. All that will change, which in turn may help fuel the fire to collect sales taxes on all Internet purchases nationwide.