Amazon will soon have a prime new location in the Edmonton area.
An Amazon fulfilment centre — the second in Alberta — is under construction in Nisku, Alta. The facility will handle packing and shipping for large products, like hockey sticks, bicycles and patio furniture.
Both the province and Leduc County believe the centre will create much-needed jobs in the region and represents an important step in diversifying the province’s oil and gas economy.
“We welcome all sorts of business to Alberta, all sorts of companies,” said Tanya Fir, Alberta’s minister of economic development, trade and tourism. “It’s exciting to see [Amazon] in complement with all types of businesses we have here: agriculture, forestry, oil and gas.”
The construction project currently employs 100 workers, but more hiring will take place during its final phase. When complete, the building will be approximately 1 million square feet — larger than 21 football fields.
Once the facility opens, it will employ more than 600 permanent, full-time staff, said Vibhore Arora, Amazon’s regional director for Canada.
Positions will range from entry-level associates who pack and ship customer products, to mid-level and senior-level administrative roles in human resources and communications.
“All these 600 jobs, when they start, they will have all of their benefits from day one,” Arora said.
When asked how the fulfilment centre will affect local businesses, Arora said Amazon’s focus is on consumers.
“Our company philosophy has been that we are always focused on our own customers,” Arora said. “In terms of what the competition is doing … our focus is more on our internal Amazon strategy in terms of how we can make operations better for our customers.”
The mayor of Leduc County, Tanni Doblanko, said she can’t stop smiling because she’s so excited for the facility to open.
“When we announced this last fall, there was a huge uptick on our website when people were looking for jobs,” Doblanko said. “Already, the interest was there, because we needed to get something to get our economy going again.”
Doblanko hopes Amazon’s investment will attract more companies — and more jobs — outside of the oil and gas sector.
“This could be the beginning of a huge start for logistics and distribution in this region because of our proximity to the airport,” she said. “If Amazon believes that they can make it here, well, I’m thinking most other companies will think that, too.”
Nisku will always retain its oil and gas identity, Doblanko said. But she said a diversified economy will allow the region to weather economic busts when oil prices are low.
The centre, which will cost about $120 million to build, is projected to open in Spring 2020.
Amazon will start hiring staff shortly before its completion.
Although the project was announced in 2018 under the NDP government, Fir said the warehouse is a good example of the province’s new business-friendly environment.
“Our government is spreading the message that our province is open for business,” Fir said.