Amazon continues to expand footprint in central Florida with a new 1.1 million-square-foot facility that will employ more than 500 people.
AUBURNDALE — Amazon soon will have an extra-large footprint in Auburndale.
The Seattle-based corporation was long-rumored to be interested in a nearly 1.1 million-square-foot distribution center under development by Prologis Inc. on C. Fred Jones Boulevard, south of Interstate 4 near the State Road 559 interchange.
Amazon surfaced as the tenant Wednesday morning in a company news release, though city officials were notified several months earlier, said Amy Palmer, Auburndale's community development director.
“Amazon joins a number of large names that have a home here in Auburndale,” she said, including Coca-Cola, Comcar Industries, Medline Industries and Saddle Creek Logistics Services.
Amazon's Auburndale fulfillment center will employ more than 500 full-time workers who will be paid a starting hourly wage of $15, the company said in its release.
Employees will “pick, pack and ship large customer items such as sports equipment, patio furniture, fishing rods, pet food, kayaks, bicycles and larger household goods,” the company said.
The new fulfillment center adds to the company's existing Florida workforce of 13,500 full-time associates.
Amazon has had a presence in Lakeland since 2014 when it opened a 1 million-square-foot fulfillment center on County Line Road.
Lakeland officials in May announced the city had signed a 20-year contract with Amazon to construct a 285,000-square-foot air cargo complex at Lakeland Linder International Airport. The facility is expected to create 800 to 1,000 new jobs and net $111.7 million in revenue for the city over the next 30 years.
“Florida has been a source of exceptional talent for Amazon and the Sunshine State is an ideal location to provide great selection, competitive prices and superfast shipping speeds to Floridians,” Alicia Boler Davis, Amazon's vice president of global customer fulfillment, said Wednesday in a statement.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis even weighed in, saying in a Twitter post that the Auburndale center “is a big win for Polk County and our entire state, and we look forward to the economic benefits.”
Unlike the Lakeland airport project, there are no tax incentives tied to the Auburndale fulfillment center, Palmer said.
“There's no need for incentives, we're not in any competition with another area (for the same project),” she said. “They're coming here because they need to be here. We're in the center of all the customers.”
Amazon's Auburndale warehouse is being constructed on a 146-acre tract owned by Sharrett Properties. Prologis had first approached the city in the fall of 2016 about plans to develop a 1.3 million-square-foot distribution center on the parcel, but withdrew the proposal after neighbors complained about potential noise, environmental pollution, traffic and safety issues.
Sharrett Properties later worked with the city to approve new zoning rules that appeased protesters.
“Auburndale is pleased to have Amazon join the family of businesses that call our city home,” Auburndale Mayor Tim Pospichal said in a prepared statement. “We look forward to the opportunities this fulfillment center will provide the residents of our city.”
Eric Pera can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 863-802-7528.