Amazon to open fulfillment center in Ruskin, will bring 1,000 jobs

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Amazon finalized a deal to create a 1.1 million-square-foot distribution center in Ruskin, , officials announced Thursday.

Construction will begin immediately, reports the Tampa Bay Times and could result in as many as 1,000 permanent jobs to southern Hillsborough County. The final location of the Amazon “fulfillment center” was under speculation since the online retailing giant announced the move to Florida in June.

There was no announcement of an opening date for the center.

“This is bigger than landing the Super Bowl, a National Convention or the Olympics,” Hillsborough Commissioner Sandy Murman, told the Times. Murman’s district includes Ruskin.

“It’s a mega-storm of growth that’s hitting our county with feeder bands that will create economic growth all over this area,” Murman added.

On Wednesday, Minneapolis-based Ryan Cos. completed the sale of the land to the real estate subsidiary of the insurance company USAA, which acquired a long-term lease with Amazon to build on the site.

The center will be off Interstate 75 and State Road 674 in Ruskin and will create 1,000 new jobs, with as many as 375 paying more than Florida’s average earnings, according to Hillsborough County economic development officials. The package deal of improvements and equipment necessary for the project will bring up to $200 million in investments to the county.

in July, commissioners voted to reduce the county portion of Amazon’s property tax bill by half for the first seven years after completion of the center, a total of about $6.4 million. They also approved in June that more than $1 million to paid in installments over four years, as long as the company created a minimum of 375 “well-paying” jobs — defined as 15 percent more than the average state wage of $47,581.

Although Amazon did not respond to the Times for comment, the company did say that it would be creating more than 70,000 full-time jobs during the 2013 holiday season, a nearly 40 percent increase over the last year.

A fulfillment center in Florida means that Amazon will be collecting sales taxes on orders made within the state. Many brick-and-mortar retailers say that this gives the Seattle-based company an unfair advantage in the marketplace.

A distribution center could possibly lead to “same-day” deliveries in the Tampa Bay area, which Amazon offers in various markets in the U.S., including Seattle, Boston and Chicago, on orders placed by a certain time. In those cities, customers pay as much as $8.99 for same day shipping, which drops to $3.99 on certain items for Amazon Prime customers. 

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.