NORTH HAVEN — The 1.2 million-square-foot Amazon plant on Route 5 will be equipped to ship over 1 million items per day during the peak holiday shopping season.
Richard Dyce, director of operations at the new plant, told about 180 area business leaders late last month that the Amazon robotics fulfillment center set to open in August is more technologically advanced than any currently in operation throughout the company’s massive network.
Amazon eyed the former Pratt & Whitney site in North Haven, less than a mile from the Wallingford line, for its proximity to a major highway and ability to serve the New York City and Boston markets. The plant will have almost 2,000 employees.
“This version of the Amazon building is far beyond any other building at this time,” Dyce said during the town Economic Development Commission’s spring breakfast. “We’ll be able to support a larger volume. We will continue to grow in the state of Connecticut.”
Amazon also has a sortation center in Wallingford, a fulfillment center in Windsor, a delivery station in Bristol, and a hub at Bradley International Airport.
“Amazon has invested more than $500 million into the state,” Dyce said. “We have contributed $200 million to the state’s economy.”
The Economic Development Commission invited Dyce to be the guest speaker at its semi-annual breakfast April 25 to introduce Amazon to the business community. It was among its most heavily attended breakfasts, commission members said.
Dyce has a background in electrical engineering and moved to the area to get a master’s degree in business administration from Yale University. He worked in various roles for Pratt & Whitney, and was a quality engineer for Proctor & Gamble before Amazon reached out.
“It was an opportunity to do something with high growth,” he said.
Dyce trained at Amazon’s New Jersey operation in 2016, and went to the Windsor plant prior to its opening in 2017 to prepare for the North Haven plant’s opening.
“We led that building through two peak seasons. It was the number one building in productivity among like-sized buildings,” he said about Windsor.
Amazon is in the final months of construction and is working closely with job training and placement specialists to have 1,800 full-time workers in place when the trucks start rolling. Amazon starts its pay rate at $15 per hour for tier one workers.
“Hundreds of people are applying for jobs and attending workshop sessions” said First Selectman Michael Freda.
The jobs range from entry-level warehouse workers who pick, package and send products, to second and third-tier process assistants, and operations managers in a variety of different roles.
The fulfillment center will also have human resource and information technicians, full-time emergency medical technicians available 24 hours a day and physical therapists to offer injury prevention training.
”There are a variety of different roles,” Dyce said. “It will run the spectrum.”
To date, more than 300 people attended Amazon hiring events the Workforce Alliance hosted at the New Haven and Meriden American Job Centers. A total of 150 were hired or extended job offers, said Workforce Alliance spokeswoman Ann Harrison.
“As the North Haven facility prepares to open, the Workforce Alliance is setting dates for hiring events at the American Job Centers, but also at other locations in surrounding towns,” Harrison said in a statement. “As soon as the new job descriptions are available, we will be finalizing dates for events in North Haven, New Haven, Meriden and possibly Wallingford.”
During the EDC event, Dyce also talked about Amazon’s plans for community engagement.
“Volunteerism is something we’ll really be focused on inside the building,” he said. “I am the point of contact for community engagement ... I look forward to partnering with a lot of you...”
Work to connect the Valley Service Road to the facility has been delayed. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is overseeing the work through a wetland area and won’t have it completed by the August opening, said Richard Lopresto, chairman of the Economic Development Commission.
The service road was to provide delivery trucks and Amazon employees an entrance to the facility without clogging Route 5. Lopresto said it probably won’t be completed for a year.