CLEAR BROOK — Gov. Ralph Northam toured the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Frederick County on Monday afternoon to celebrate the facility’s contributions to the economy and the creation of 1,500 jobs.
Northam was joined by state Sen. Jill Vogel, R-Upperville, and local officials and business leaders for a VIP tour of the 1.06-million-square-foot facility at 281 Woodbine Road. The $56.6 million center, which began full-time operation on June 17, 2018, picks, packs and ships large customer items for the Seattle-based e-commerce giant, such as big screen TVs, kayaks and patio furniture.
Jake Williams, the facility’s site leader who led the tour, said 1,500 full-time employees work there and the location is still hiring. Jobs start at $15 an hour and include medical, vision and dental insurance benefits as well as a 401(k) with a 50% match. Amazon also offers up to 20 weeks of maternal and parental paid leave. He said employees work 10 hour shifts, four days a week.
Northam praised Amazon for providing jobs “that individuals can support themselves and their families with.” He said one of his proudest days as governor was when he announced that Amazon would be locating its second headquarters in Crystal City in Northern Virginia. His other proudest moment was when CNBC reported that a national study ranked Virginia as the top state for business.
“It’s not a coincidence that we are number one when we have great partners like Amazon,” Northam said.
Northam said small businesses are “the backbone of our economy,” and he appreciates that many of the products Amazon distributes come from small businesses.
On the tour, guests learned how items are packaged, sorted and shipped. Northam and Vogel even got to pack a box themselves.
For some of the specialized products, a “box on demand machine” creates boxes to fit the shape of the product.
“I’m a business owner,” Northam said. “And walking around and interacting with the employees was my favorite thing, starting with when you walk in the front door. They greet you, welcome you. They feel good about what’s going on here at Amazon. And the workers and employees enjoy their jobs and commit to making Amazon another successful business.”
Amazon has more than 10,000 employees in Virginia. In addition to the Clear Brook site, Amazon has fulfillment centers in Ashland, Chester, Petersburg, Springfield and Sterling. Its second headquarters will add more than 25,000 jobs.
Since 2010, Amazon has invested more than $34 billion in Virginia, Williams said. The company estimates its investments in the commonwealth have created an additional 40,000 indirect jobs — such as construction-related jobs — on top of the company’s 10,000 direct hires.
Amazon also has pledged to invest over $700 million to provide training for 100,000 U.S. employees for in-demand jobs. This will help Amazon employees move into highly skilled roles in the company’s corporate offices, tech hubs, fulfillment centers, retail stores and transportation network, or pursue career paths outside of Amazon.
At the end of the tour, Williams presented a $10,000 donation to The Kids Clubs of Northern Shenandoah Valley to support “right now” needs for children in the community, including the group’s emergency food pantry, after-school care and resources for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) educational opportunities. The donation was accepted by the group’s executive director, Heather Forman.
Vogel called Amazon a “great corporate citizen.” She said she appreciates what the company has done for Virginia, calling its contributions “a big deal.”