3,000 temps among 4,500 Amazon is hiring

TOP EMPLOYERS IN CITYFull- and part-time employees in Chattanooga:1. Hamilton County Department of Education: 5,8652. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee: 4,5143. TVA: 3,9814. Erlanger Health System: 3,8655. Memorial Health Care System: 3,708Source: Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce

AMAZON JOBSPeople interested in applying can go to www.integrityjobschattanooga.com.

In a tough economy, Chattanoogan Mike Burke had been out of a full-time job for over two years.

But last week, he scored a post at Amazon's new Chattanooga distribution center.

"I'm tickled," said Burke, adding that his new employee orientation is Oct. 25 at the huge Enterprise South industrial park structure and he'll begin work soon after.

Amazon said Tuesday that Burke should be among 4,500 workers at its Chattanooga and Cleveland, Tenn., distribution centers by the end of 2011.

That will make it one of the biggest employers in the region and likely the fastest to reach that number of employees.

The company already has hired more than 1,200 workers for the two facilities with plans to have 300 more full-time workers on board by the yearend, according to the nation's No. 1 online retailer.

Also, the company expects to have 3,000 seasonal employees to help with the massive influx of orders before Christmas.

That's about 1,000 more than the company earlier said it would bring.

Dave Clark, Amazon's North American operations vice president, said the team of workers "are excited to get to work serving our customers in time for the holidays."

About 200 cars were parked at Amazon's Chattanooga distribution center Tuesday afternoon.

Signs directed people to first-day employee parking as well as to spaces for other workers and for contractors. About 20 to 30 tractor-trailer trucks were parked behind the facility.

Amazon officials said the company will have temporary employees working at its local facilities throughout the year. That way, the company can maintain a pool of full-time workers, it said.

J.Ed. Marston, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's vice president of marketing, said job creation is something officials always want to happen quickly, though it often takes awhile.

photo Adrian Merriweather is interviewed outside the offices of Integrity Staffing Solutions on Lee Highway on Monday after getting a job at Amazon.

"We're certainly very pleased how quickly Amazon has moved through the construction process and now stands ready to open the facilities," he said. "This is very impressive."

Integrity Staffing Solutions, working out of a Lee Highway office, is helping Amazon fill its work force.

"The response has been very positive," said Integrity spokeswoman Megan Couch.

Hiring push

At the Integrity office Monday just after lunch, well over a dozen people were taking skills tests or waiting to do so. There was a flow of prospective job applicants entering and leaving the office.

Adrian Merriweather, a 23-year-old student at Chattanooga State Community College, said he found a part-time job at the Enterprise South location that fit his schedule.

"It seems like a good company to work for," he said.

Shaun Bowman, of Catoosa County, said he, too, is looking for a job to fit with schoolwork. But, he said, it appeared as if a third shift slot he was offered would conflict with classes.

"It might not be too safe," Bowman added.

He said he took a basic skills test that he termed "real easy."

Amber Williams, 19, of Chattanooga, said she is applying at Amazon with the aim of starting a career with the Seattle-based business.

"I love shopping Amazon," she said.

Rob Collins, who also was looking for an Amazon job, said he does a lot of tree-trimming work, which slows down during the holiday season.

"People don't want to spend the money," he said, adding tree work will pick up after income tax refunds come in early next year.

Amazon is investing about $139 million in the two distribution centers. A majority of those hired at the centers would start at more than $10 an hour, according to Amazon. For permanent employees, Amazon offers variable cash pay for performance and some restricted shares of stock.

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