It has only been in operation since August, but the Amazon fulfillment center in Shakopee is already looking to ramp up its workforce as the online giant’s growth continues to outpace the overall retail industry.
Amazon is actively hiring for another 1,000 full-time jobs on top of the 1,500 positions it has already filled at the warehouse in the southwestern suburb, said Nina Lindsey, an Amazon spokeswoman. That is more than double the 1,000 jobs Amazon initially said it expected to have at its first and only fulfillment center in Minnesota.
“It’s because of an increase in customer demand,” she said.
She declined to say whether that higher demand was especially pronounced in the Upper Midwest, noting that the center also can handle orders from around the country and even globally. She added that the Shakopee warehouse is one of 20 out of Amazon’s 70 fulfillment centers in the U.S. that use Amazon robotics to help move packages around the center.
Those centers with robotics “fulfill more customer orders more efficiently so we direct more volume to those facilities,” she said. “That leads to an increase in job creation.”
The hiring spree for so many full-time workers was surprising news to Samantha DiMaggio, the city of Shakopee’s economic development coordinator, who initially thought the recruiting efforts were mostly for temporary holiday workers. She wondered if this means the fulfillment center will be adding a night shift.
“The only thing I can think of is that they’re going to go around the clock,” she said. “That’s a lot of workers.”
Lindsey, from Amazon, confirmed that the 1,000 new jobs are not temporary seasonal ones but year-round positions. She also noted that the warehouse is quite large — nearly a million square feet.
“So there’s plenty of room to accommodate more workers,” she said.
In recent weeks, Amazon’s hiring ads for the Shakopee site have been hitting TV screens and newspapers around the Twin Cities. They promote $1,000 signing and referral bonuses and wages of up to $17 an hour. They also tout “on-the-spot job offers” and list three places where people can walk in without an appointment to apply in person — the Doubletree Hotel in Bloomington, the Confederation of Somali Community in Minneapolis and at the Amazon warehouse in Shakopee itself.
The job market in the Twin Cities is particularly tight with many businesses from many industries struggling to find enough workers. But Amazon has offered similar bonuses at other sites around the country in the past few years, and it is not a new practice, Lindsey said.
This summer, the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority added a new express bus route from the Mall of America to Shakopee aimed in part at helping workers get to the Amazon site. SouthWest Transit also recently launched a new hourly bus route from Eden Prairie to Shakopee, which makes stops at Amazon and St. Francis Medical Center.
Amazon has been making aggressive inroads into the Twin Cities in the last couple of years. It first started collecting sales taxes in the state in October 2014. Last year, Amazon also opened a smaller sorting center in Shakopee as well as an outpost in Minneapolis from which it rolled out its Prime Now service offering delivery of select items, including some restaurant and alcohol items, to Prime members within two hours.
As Amazon has multiplied its services and gained more members in its Prime program, the online company has been taking a greater share of online dollars. Over the Black Friday weekend, which included Cyber Monday, Amazon took in more than 30 percent of all online sales, according to Slice Intelligence.