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Amazon is expanding the full-time staff at its Chattanooga distribution center even before it ramps up hiring for its holiday Christmas season.
"We're hiring for hundreds of positions in Chattanooga to meet increased demand," said company spokeswoman Kelly Cheeseman. "We also expect to hire at our sites leading up to the holidays."
She wouldn't say exactly how many more people Amazon is now hiring, nor give the specific number of employees the Chattanooga facility will have after the new hires.
In February, when Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam visited the site, Amazon officials said it had 1,700 people at the 1 million-square-foot Enterprise South industrial park location.
Cheeseman said the company is hiring for warehouse positions. The company's website put the starting pay at $11 per hour for a warehouse associate. The Amazon spokeswoman said new employees will receive comprehensive benefits including health and company stock awards.
Plans are for the new workers to begin in the fall, Cheeseman said. Their jobs will include picking, packing and shipping customer orders, she said.
Charles Wood, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's vice president for economic development, said the jobs for which Amazon is now hiring will stay on past the holidays.
"It's not a seasonal dynamic," said Wood, who was at the Amazon facility earlier this week. "It's got a lot of long-term growth potential."
Cheeseman said that later this year, the company will begin hiring its temporary workers to meet the the heavy Christmas season demand for the world's biggest Internet retailer.
Wood said Amazon likely will use an employment contractor as it did last year to help hire seasonal workers.
An Amazon official said earlier this year that the company's Chattanooga and Cleveland, Tenn., distribution centers would likely employ 5,000 workers at some point this year. That's well above the 4,000 full-time and temporary workers the two locations had at their peak during the last Christmas period, the official said then.
This summer, Amazon was to finish a physical expansion to the Chattanooga site that included adding onto an existing second-level mezzanine. The expansion was to have boosted floor space in the facility to equal 28 football fields.