Officials tour Amazon fulfillment center in North Haven set to open this summer

Officials tour Amazon fulfillment center in North Haven set to open this summer

NORTH HAVEN — Local and state officials got a behind-the-scenes look Thursday at Amazon’s new robotic fulfillment center, which is expected to open later this summer.

“This is how we continue to modernize and grow our economy, by welcoming these changes and making sure we can make it happen for Amazon and a lot of others,” Gov. Ned Lamont said. The 855,000-square-foot facility was built on the former site of Pratt & Whitney off Route 5.

Once it is fully operational, the center will be able to ship a million items per day during peak periods.

“In this particular building, we’re capable of storing tens of millions of units... and we want to be able to manage that as effectively as possible to get it in and ultimately pick, pack and ship it as fast as possible to our customers,” said Richard Dyce, the fulfillment center’s director of operations.

During a tour of the facility, Dyce explained the 400 different “stations” where employees,
assisted by robots, will prepare products to be shipped across the country.

The North Haven fulfillment center is the second in the state, about 100,000 square feet smaller than the Windsor center. Amazon also has a sorting center in Wallingford, delivery station in Bristol and an Amazon Air Hub in Hartford.

First Selectman Michael Freda, Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz and state lawmakers joined Dyce and Lamont on the tour.

Freda thanked the Amazon representatives for opening the center in North Haven and said the town and state will continue to be the facility’s biggest “cheerleader.”

The “economic development multiplier effect of the synergies that are created with other businesses doing business with Amazon really have helped ignite the optimism, the hope of our community in this region,” Freda said.

1,800 jobs

Amazon is looking to fill about 1,800 jobs for the center. Positions will be posted online in early July and job seekers will have to fill out an application and attend a hiring event hosted by Workforce Alliance, which helped Amazon fill positions in Wallingford.

Ann Harrison, communications director for Workforce Alliance, said five events are planned in North Haven, Wallingford, Durham, New Haven and Meriden.

The first hiring event will be on July 9 at North Haven High School, 221 Elm St. The Meriden event will be July 24 at the Meriden American Job Center, 87 W. Main St.

Amazon anticipates posting the North Haven openings by July 8, according to Harrison.

After completing an application, candidates will need to watch a video and complete a drug test, but could leave the hiring event with a job offer, which would be contingent on the results of the drug test and background check.

Amazon offers entry-level rates of $15 per hour.

“... it raises the bar. If this company keeps offering it, and especially in the labor market where we’re at about 3 percent unemployment, that’s going to drive wages up everywhere,” Harrison said.

She said the bulk of initial hiring will be for associate positions — individuals sorting items at stations with robotic assistance.

Bysiewicz said she was happy to hear Amazon would be offering 20 weeks of paid family leave.

“You have recognized our strategic location, our well trained workforce, and we are thrilled to add the kinds of good paying jobs that you are going to be creating right here — 1,800 of them,” Bysiewicz said.

Dyce said full-time employees will have the opportunity after 12 months to enroll in the onsite “Career Choice” program, which offers 95 percent pre-paid tuition for certified programs, even if they are unrelated to Amazon careers.

“At Amazon we are extremely proud to have continuing education,” Dyce said. “Anybody who walks within these doors, we want to be able to help them potentially walk out better off as a result of being here.”

State Rep. David Yaccarino, State Rep. Vincent Candelora, State Sen. Len Fasano, State Sen. Martin Looney, and Selectwoman Sally Buemi also attended the tour.
Twitter: @baileyfaywright