published Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Amazon.com eyes Chattanooga, Bradley facilities

  • photo
    A worker separates packages for final shipment inside the 800,000-square-foot Amazon.com warehouse in Goodyear, Ariz. (AP File Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Online retailing leader Amazon.com is eyeing a pair of mammoth fulfillment centers in Hamilton and Bradley counties, officials said late Monday.

The projects would represent a $164 million investment and create up to 1,400 jobs, state and local officials confirmed.

The Times Free Press first reported the Amazon story on its website Monday evening.

Gov. Phil Bredesen said officials are working diligently with Amazon.com to settle outstanding issues on the proposal to build two 1 million-square-foot centers.

"It is my hope that we can bring these discussions to a successful resolution and create a large number of jobs for the people of Tennessee," he said.

Officials from Amazon.com declined to comment.

Today, the City Council may consider an incentive package for the company, with the County Commission likely taking up the matter later in the week. The project has been code-named Project Infinity in state documents.

Work could start as early as next month on the Chattanooga facility at Enterprise South industrial park if state permits are OK'd and other steps are approved.

Matt Kisber, state commissioner of economic and community development, said there has been lots of speculation about the company, which had been unnamed.

"Because of the need to move forward at the local level on PILOT (payment-in-lieu-of tax) agreements in multiple communities, we felt it was important at this time for policymakers at the state and local levels to know who we're in discussions with," he said.

Mayor Ron Littlefield said that in addition to the PILOT agreements, there are other issues to work through at the state and local levels.

But, he said, he has "high hopes of firming up Amazon's investment in the next few weeks."

"Complex project"

Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey said Amazon would make "a great addition" to the local economy.

"This is a complex project. We couldn't have gotten this far without Hamilton County, Bradley County, the city of Chattanooga and the respective chambers from both communities working together to make this much progress in a short period of time," he said.

Bradley Mayor Gary Davis said the county is taking the necessary steps to finalize its local commitment to the company.

Trevor Hamilton, vice president of economic development for the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, said the Amazon project has come together rapidly over the past couple of months.

"The company has a very ambitious construction timeline, so reaching resolution on the remaining issues is very important if we're to be successful in winning this project," he said.

Chattanooga officials have said the company could make a $101 million investment at Enterprise South, which already holds the $1 billion Volkswagen auto assembly plant. The distribution center's average salary for workers was put at $32,000 a year, officials said.

In Bradley, Project Infinity's investment could top $63 million, officials said.

Earlier this month, the Times Free Press reported that an 80-acre site near VW was being prepped for such a development, though officials declined to name the business. The site is near where Erlanger Health System is building a new medical facility and that was reportedly a consideration by the company.

A state document indicated that the unnamed company was considering a facility that would be 23 acres in size, about double the size of VW's new supplier park just across Volkswagen Drive from the auto factory.

Later, it was reported that a similar-sized distribution center was being eyed for Bradley just off Interstate 75 near Charleston, Tenn., by the same company.

Meanwhile, an official related to the Hamilton project said the state was being tapped for $4 million to spur the startup of site work at Enterprise South.

Drawings for the site work, referred to as Project ASAP (As Soon As Possible), indicated the facility could go up in four phases.

about Mike Pare...

Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...

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Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
rsbrook said...

Oops now we'll have to pay tax for anything bought through Amazon.com!

November 30, 2010 at 12:55 a.m.
SDG49 said...

This is WONDERFUL for our construction industry / contractors. See that AMAZON sells Schwinn & Pacific bikes along with popular Kindle readers.

. Maybe county officials can FINISH some of the walkway / bike paths in the county .?

November 30, 2010 at 7:31 a.m.
Allison12 said...

Can the public please view how much of our money is being given to Amazon before a vote? It is rather curious to make commitment for the public, without the public being allowed to know how much of our tax dollars Amazon will receive. Following the Chamber and Littlefield blindly would a huge mistake.

November 30, 2010 at 7:55 a.m.
moon4kat said...

I, too, would like to know whether this means that Tennessee residents will have to pay sales tax when ordering through Amazon if it has a distribution facility here. May we have an answer to that question?

November 30, 2010 at 8:35 a.m.
astall said...

I previously lived in Kentucky, where they currently have a distribution center. Tennessee residents will now have to pay sales tax.

November 30, 2010 at 8:47 a.m.
jpo3136 said...

Have a look at the state's web page on sales and use tax if you have questions about internet sales.

Internet retail stopped being tax free years ago.

Reference: http://www.state.tn.us/revenue/tntaxes/salesanduse.htm

November 30, 2010 at 8:49 a.m.
jpo3136 said...

Here's one more: http://www.state.tn.us/revenue/tntaxes/usetax.htm

Buying through an electronic web page is covered under the same types of tax collection laws used for mail-order catalogs since the 1940s, the web page says.

November 30, 2010 at 8:52 a.m.
mrredskin said...

forget it. if they want it in the area, put it in north GA. i sure as hell don't want to pay 10% more for what i buy on there, which is where the vast majority of my ordering comes from.

November 30, 2010 at 8:56 a.m.
Allison12 said...

Oh, then there would be no sweet consulting deals for the 6 figure players at the Chamber of Commerce.

November 30, 2010 at 9:16 a.m.
LibDem said...

As indicated by others, sales tax has always been due. The fact that you may have chosen not to comply with the law doesn't mean the law isn't there. The form is SLS 452. I file it every year.

November 30, 2010 at 9:49 a.m.
newsjunkie7 said...

So they'll tax us 10%. I'll drive over there in the new Chattanooga VW sedan(or ride my bike !) and pick my stuff up and won't have to pay shipping!

November 30, 2010 at 10:20 a.m.

Big logistic centers employ very few regardless of the huge amount of space they occupy. So if it means we pay the sales tax then I'm not too happy about this news.

Who is foolish enough to pay sales tax if it's not charged? I'd rather give a tip to the real person who provides and delivers the goods/services than to give it to greedy politicians.

November 30, 2010 at 11:21 a.m.
LibDem said...

bookieturnersghost: You are right I'm sure that these centers would employ few. I don't understand, however, your dismissal of the sales tax. If it's due by law, it's due. And why do you think taxpayers don't tip? These are not mutually exclusive options.

November 30, 2010 at 11:54 a.m.
Soos54 said...

It's unbelievable to me, during this time of recession and job loss, that when faced with the opportunity for 1,400 new jobs in the community, all you can think to do is complain about sales tax. Really?!?!?

November 30, 2010 at 11:58 a.m.
mrredskin said...

Soos54: yep. when the company gets massive tax breaks for moving in, and then i have to pay my 10% to buy from them, it kind of puts a damper on the whole situation, don't you think?

like i said before, move it about 10 miles south to GA. it still benefits the SE TN area.

November 30, 2010 at 12:45 p.m.
bergerberg said...

Amen, Soos24.

We wonder why the South has a bad reputation and here these rubes are saying they would prefer 1400 jobs NOT come to town if it's going to cost them (at most) a couple hundred dollars a year in sales tax that they ought to be paying anyway.

I for one welcome the Amazonians and their middle-class jobs to the Scenic City.

This, by the way, is how jobs are created. A company has success with a product or distribution channel and grows to meet the demand. The local governments are smart to do what they can, which is get out of the way and lower taxes to encourage job creation.

November 30, 2010 at 12:54 p.m.
hambone said...

Just think, how many Check-into-Cash storefronts it would take to make 1400 JOBS!

November 30, 2010 at 1:09 p.m.
anderson2010 said...

I would gladly pay a 10% sales tax in order to land a job..There just arent any out there..Maybe Amazon wont be as discriminating as VW..Check into Cash and all of these check advance places need to be put out of business..They prey on people who are down and out.

November 30, 2010 at 2 p.m.
My2centsworth said...

I like the sneaky way things are being done. Especially with Ron Littlefield. "Mayor Ron Littlefield said that in addition to the PILOT agreements, there are other issues to work through at the state and local levels.

But, he said, he has "high hopes of firming up Amazon's investment in the next few weeks."

"Complex project"

Yeah it is complex - trying to decide who gets the biggest slice of the kick-backs and special considerations. or who is going to make the most out of the deal. tsk tsk tsk

Today, the City Council may consider an incentive package for the company. AN incentive package?? I can see my taxes going up. AND yeah that is a big deal to me.

And this -- The distribution center's average salary for workers was put at $32,000 a year, officials said.

WOW that salary is how much above the poverty line?? hmmm lets see - in 2009 the poverty line was $22,050. That worker is barely getting by. I wonder how much he can save what with all the government intrusions into his life. Food prices going up, along with gas, insurance, electricity, clothes, I guess just about everything. - except his wages to compensate. BUT not to worry, BIG GOVERNMENT will provide. If not I am sure that Ron Littlefield will be more than happy to help out. Oooops I forgot Ron cannot balance the City's Budget, oh well I guess you are on your own.

Hey Ron, just exactly who is going to benefit from this deal? How much is the City getting??

USSA is one day closer..

November 30, 2010 at 2:02 p.m.

LibDem, I stopped all attempts at explaining economics to Democrats a long time ago. Economics require logic and common sense which most Democrats lack.

A charged sales tax is NOT an option. An uncharged sales tax is a loss to the politician. So do you think politicians are not getting enough already?

November 30, 2010 at 2:37 p.m.
keithandmissy said...

@My2centsworth... $32,000 is a good average wage for that type of work. The federal poverty line you are talking about is household income with four people. Assuming two are employed (as most are nowadays), that would be a $64,000 average household income, well above the $22,000 that is the federal poverty guideline.

Not to mention the fact that poverty guidelines are essentially meaningless without a context of cost of living (relatively very low in the Chattanooga area).

November 30, 2010 at 2:52 p.m.
newsjunkie7 said...

These jobs are better than VW jobs because, #1-Amazon is the leader in their field, #2-they have a proven product and are ranked #1 by consumers, and #3-they aren't affected by the economic downfalls as much as VW. VW cannot claim any of these things.Oh, and Amazon.com is growing leaps and bounds over VW, inc internationally. And for those complaining about the sales tax, those that will get jobs at Amazon.com will put $ in the local economy and due to the multplier affect, hopefully wherever you work-your companies' business will be increased, and you will get a raise. Or if not, you can always move to a state where Amazon.com isn't located and keep not paying the sales tax.

November 30, 2010 at 3:27 p.m.
TNCitizen said...

The only reason TN sales tax is so high is that the rich folks have prevented us from having an income tax.

November 30, 2010 at 4:44 p.m.
fairmon said...

TNCitizen your logic regarding a state income tax escapes me. It appears you think "rich" people rather pay 9.75% sales tax than an after deductions 6% income tax which would reduce their federal taxes. Actually we would all be better off if all taxes on business were abolished and all taxes on income were eliminated with no withholding from a pay check. A national consumption tax would be included in any purchase. Those with illegal, black market, cash or other unreported income would pay their share. The wealthy that spend more would pay more. A key provision would be a prebate where every citizen received a monthly or quarterly check. This prebate would return to those on the lower end of the scale all the consumption taxes they paid. The rich and many politicians hate this concept that is in SB HR-25 but has not been moved out of committee to the floor.

For all the details see Fairtax.org

November 30, 2010 at 7:49 p.m.
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