CHICAGO (CBS) -- Amazon plans to build two new fulfillment centers in the south suburbs – in Markham and Matteson – bringing 2,000 jobs to the Southland.
The 855,000-square-foot warehouses will be the first of their kind in Cook County, using the newest generation of Amazon robots to help sort and ship goods ordered online.
Amazon Regional Director of Operations Mike Flannery said both facilities will launch in time for the upcoming holiday season.
"Future employees will work alongside Amazon's most innovative robotic technology to safely and efficiently pick, pack, and ship smaller customer orders such as books, electronics, toys, and household goods," Flannery said.
Markham Mayor Roger Agpawa said, with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as recent looting following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, "Amazon is a silver lining in our cloud that had come with some of those things."
All 2,000 new jobs at the fulfillment centers will have a starting wage of at least $15 per hour. All employees also will receive medical and dental insurance, and 401(k) retirement benefits.
"Today marks the historic day for both the village of Matteson and for the village of Markham. We are equally excited about what's to come," Matteson Village President Sheila Chalmers-Currin said.
Gov. JB Pritzker said Amazon already has 11 other facilities in Illinois, employing a total of 18,000 people. He said the two new warehouses in the south suburbs come at a critical time for the region, with so many people out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We all know that the economic impact of this pandemic has made our work to create jobs more urgent than ever before," he said. "If you work hard in this state, you deserve to be able to afford the goods and services that you produce, and Amazon recognizes that. They also know Illinois has some of the most dedicated and talented workers in the entire nation."
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said the south suburbs have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic.
"I'm grateful that Amazon chose our south suburbs as home to these new facilities, and I'm hopeful that Amazon's investment in the Southland will provide a much-needed boost to the local economy, and provide jobs to the residents of the region," she said.
The Pullman neighborhood in Chicago also will soon get an Amazon warehouse, after the Chicago City Council last week approved plans for a 40-acre distribution center on the last vacant parcel of Pullman Park, a 180-acre mixed-use development alongside the Bishop Ford, roughly between 103rd and 111th Streets.
The Pullman Park warehouse will include more than 1,200 parking spaces, 12 trailer truck parking spaces, and 13 loading docks. Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) has said construction should be completed before Oct. 31, in time for the holiday shopping season. He said the facility will help improve Amazon's ability to provide next-day and same-day shipping in Chicago.
Beale has said the $60 million project would create up to 500 temporary construction jobs and about 200 permanent jobs once it is open.
The alderman also has said Amazon has made a commitment to hire local residents for both the construction project and for permanent jobs at the distribution center. He also said the company has hired a consultant to make sure there is sufficient participation from minority-and women-owned businesses in the construction project.
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