Amazon will open a delivery center in St. Cloud this year, creating hundreds of jobs in an area still hurting from the pandemic with higher than normal unemployment levels.

"We're thrilled to have Amazon — one of the nation's premier companies — operate in St. Cloud," St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis said Tuesday after his annual State of the City address. "I think this is something most cities want."

Kleis announced in his speech that Amazon has applied for permits with the city and should be hiring this year.

The distribution center will be at a site on Heatherwood Road near Interstate 94. Kleis said Amazon purchased a vacant building and nearby land. While Kleis said he didn't know exactly how many jobs would be created, Amazon told the city it will be "hundreds," he said.

The purchase brings another business to the south side of town, near where the grocery chain Coborn's built a new headquarters several years ago.

The city did not offer any incentives to Amazon, Kleis said.

Amazon has steadily built its Minnesota presence in the past five years, with the opening of the nearly 1 million-square-foot fulfillment center in Shakopee in 2016.

Amazon expects to open the St. Cloud location this year.

"This new delivery station will provide fast and efficient delivery for customers, with the added benefit of an additional free, secure and convenient pickup and returns location," Amazon spokeswoman Nikki Wheeler said in an e-mail Tuesday.

The mayor also offered other good news in his 16th annual speech. He unveiled plans for several upcoming music-related events, new festoon lights over St. Germain Street and a new city park.

The new park is actually a field — Clark Field — that was used when the St. Cloud school district inhabited Technical High School. When the city moves its offices into the former school, it will take over Clark Field as the city's 97th park.

Kleis gave his address outside at the Lake George pavilion, which will be the site of several events featuring music.

This year's Granite City Days, which runs June 24-27, will highlight music as a means of healing and celebrating.

Kleis announced Tuesday the city's annual festival will kick off with a concert by the St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra and the Fabulous Armadillos at Husky Stadium.

The second day of the festival will feature a yet-unannounced national act performing at the Liberty Block Party.

Granite City Days will also have a downtown parade and music crawl, a "St. Cloud's Got Talent" contest, fireworks at Lake George, a heritage day pageant and a songwriting contest for a song highlighting the city.

Kleis also announced new monthly music town halls dubbed "Mayor & Friends" with musicians, poets and comedians that will feature performances and conversation.

Kleis reflected on those lost during the pandemic, including his friend Jerry Relph, the former Marine and state senator who died from COVID-19 in December, and Kleis' younger brother who died by suicide in July.

Kleis is planning a benefit this July to raise funding and awareness for veterans' mental health issues and suicide prevention. The musical event will be at Pioneer Place in downtown St. Cloud.

"As a city, we stand proud. We stand on this solid granite. That nitty-gritty city — we personify that," he said. "We are resilient and we are a community that, together, we have done so much."

Staff writer Nicole Norfleet contributed to this report.