Friday, January 19, 2018
Business

Amazon starts hiring for Ruskin, Lakeland fulfillment centers

Online retail giant Amazon has started hiring for jobs at its distribution centers opening in Ruskin and Lakeland.

Amazon's career websites list about 40 Florida positions, including operation engineers, industrial maintenance technicians, human resource employees and administrative assistants.

"We hire the world's brightest minds, offering them an environment in which they can relentlessly improve the customer experience,'' say some of the job descriptions.

"This your chance to make history.''

Amazon is expected to hire more than 1,000 people for the Ruskin center, a number that could double with seasonal and temporary workers once the center is fully operational.

Only job listings for fulfillment associates, who process orders at the warehouses, include a wage: $10.75 an hour for a part-time fulfillment associate and $14.50 for a lead fulfillment trainer or dock clerk.

Qualifications needed range from a high school diploma for a fulfillment associate to a bachelor's degree for a senior financial analyst. Fulfillment associate jobs require that people be able to lift and move totes up to 49 pounds and stand and walk for up to 10 to 12 hours. Job listings say fulfillment centers can be noisy and vary in temperature between 60 and 90 degrees, and sometimes higher.

The Seattle-based retailer is opening fulfillment centers in Hillsborough and Polk counties for processing, packaging and shipping orders. The facility in Hillsborough, near Interstate 75 and State Road 674 in Ruskin, will handle smaller goods such as books and CDs. The Polk facility, at 1760 County Line Road in Lakeland, will handle larger goods, such as TVs and kayaks.

Construction on the million-square-foot centers is expected to be finished by the end of the year in time for the holiday shopping season. The majority of hiring will occur a few months before the centers open, said Amazon spokeswoman Nina Lindsey.

Amazon has been aggressively opening distribution centers nationwide to speed up delivery times and had been scouting sites in Florida for a while. Hillsborough and Polk counties offered the company millions in tax incentives over the next several years if it creates hundreds of higher-paying jobs.

On May 1, the company started collecting sales tax on many orders from Florida customers, a requirement for a merchant that has a physical presence in the state. The additional tax money is expected to generate $75 million to $80 million for the state.

Until last week, Amazon customers had been able to buy many items without sales tax being assessed, putting local merchants at a cost disadvantage of at least 6 percent. Now only purchases made through certain out-of-state third-party sellers are tax free.

Florida law requires residents to submit sales tax on online purchases, but few people do, and the state doesn't enforce it.

Susan Thurston can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 225-3110.

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