Online retail giant Amazon to open warehouse facility in Balzac
It's not a headquarters, but Amazon says its future e-commerce business plan will include Alberta.
The online retailer says it is planning to open a fulfilment centre in Balzac, north of Calgary. The facility is the company's first business venture in Alberta.
Premier Rachel Notley announced on Thursday that the 600,000 square foot customer fulfilment centre will add 750 jobs to the Alberta economy.
"I believe that Amazon has seen that potential in us and I'm so pleased that they will be part of this more diversified economic future for all Albertans."
She says it is just one of many investments in Alberta that also include RocketSpace and Swoop coming to Calgary, Champion Pet Foods and Pinnacle in Parkland County, Google in Edmonton and Cavendish Farms in Lethbridge.
"This is the kind of work that we're doing and we won't stop until we have all those jobs back that we know matter so much to each and every Alberta family," Notley said.
Calgary MP Kent Hehr, speaking on behalf of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, says that the region is the best place for businesses to invest and build.
"It's fitting that companies see Calgary as a strong place to invest because of our talented and skilled workforce."
Glenn Sommerville, director of regional operations for Amazon, said all workers at the facility will be given good salaries as well as a lucrative education benefit plan.
"We pay very competitively within markets that have our fulfilment centres. We offer very competitive and comprehensive benefit packages as well."
He says the Balzac facility will not use any automation whatsoever. "We'll have associates that do our stowing, our picking, our packing to ship out customer orders."
Notley hopes the business will be open in the fall of 2018.
Talk about investment from Amazon has been heated ever since the online retailer announced that it was looking for a location to set up a second headquarters in September. Since then, it has received 238 proposals from cities in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
The City of Calgary is among those vying for the opportunity to have the $5B investment and 50,000 jobs that HQ2 would provide.
Officials said that there are a lot of incentives that Amazon could take advantage of should the company choose Calgary, including tax breaks, health care subsidies and a large talent pool.
Amazon is expected to release a short list of contenders in the next few weeks.
As for Calgary's chances in the bid being affected by the establishment of the distribution centre, Ashley Robinson, a spokesperson for Amazon said the two projects are being considered as different things.
"They're very independent processes. We determined a fulfilment centre for this particular location because of customer demand. When we are looking at a location for a headquarters, that's a different set of requirements and priorities that we are looking at. For us here today, we're looking at how we can better serve customers, where can we find a fulfilment centre workforce and how can the community support our operations."
The company says a final decision on HQ2 is expected sometime in 2018.