by Dan Rafter
Amazon continues to make news in the Midwest, this time announcing that it will open a new fulfillment center in the Logistics Park Kansas City in Edgerton, Kansas.
The new 800,000-square-foot facility will bring with it about 1,000 new full-time hourly jobs to the Kansas City market.
Colby Tanner, assistant vice president of economic development with BNSF Railway, the intermodal rail provider that services the logistics park, said that he’s not surprised at Amazon’s decision. The logistics park will serve as an important hub for the online retailer, he said.
“There is a lot that goes into this decision. Number one is Kansas City’s positioning in the United States. This is the middle of the United States. From a sheer logistics standpoint, this location makes perfect sense for Amazon,” Tanner said. “Being in the middle of the country creates certain advantages that other communities don’t have.”
This location is crucial for a company like Amazon that needs to ship product to all corners of the country, Tanner said.
“This logistics park is at the crossroads of several interstates, so it’s easy to ship product by truck,” he said. “It is at the intersection of many railroads. We can interchange in Kansas City with just about any rail provider as well as several other modes of transportation.”
A big move
According to information from Amazon, employees at the Edgerton fulfillment center will pick, pack and ship large items to customers. These items will include such products as big-screen TVs, sports equipment and Kayaks, Amazon said.
Amazon has not said when it will open the new fulfillment center. The fulfillment center, though, will occupy InlandPort XIV in the Logistics Park Kansas City. NorthPoint Development announced this speculative building last May.
This is not the last building that NorthPoint is taking on in the logistics park. The company earlier this year began construction of Inland Port XXXII, a 764,785-square-foot building, and Inland Port XXXIII, a 927,112-square-foot building, in the logistics park.
These two latest buildings are expected to be completed in the summer or fall of this year.
“The addition of these two speculative buildings indicates that there is a very strong demand to locate here,” said Donald Roberts, mayor of the city of Edgerton, in a statement. “Buildings of this size will attract the caliber of tenants that Logistics Park Kansas City was designed for.”
Steve Kelly, deputy secretary of the Kansas Department of Commerce, said that Amazon is selective when it comes to opening their fulfillment centers. The opportunity to open a modern facility in an ideal central location was too appealing for the retailer to pass up, he said.
“Amazon is constantly looking at its footprint. Amazon feels that this is a very good place to be. If it didn’t, Amazon wouldn’t be here,” Kelly said.
Location, though, isn’t the only positive that attracted Amazon to the logistics park, Tanner said. He also pointed to the educated workforce in the Kansas City market.
“The workforce here played a big part in Kansas City’s decision,” Tanner said. “You can build the best facility in the world. If someone is not there to run it, it won’t be successful. At the end of the day, it boils down to the people who are running your facility. Kansas City has a great workforce to draw off of. The workforce here is fantastic.”
Edgerton’s jobs gain will be appreciated. But Amazon has taken some jobs away from the state of Kansas, too. The online giant ran a warehouse in Coffeyville, Kansas, about 136 miles south of Edgerton, from 1999 through 2015. Amazon closed the facility last year as part of its efforts to reconfigure its national distribution network, taking away about 1,000 jobs in the process.
Amazon today is focusing on opening warehouses and fulfillment centers closer to larger cities. The Edgerton facility, located in the Kansas City market, follows this trend.