JOLIET – Amazon announced Wednesday it is adding 500 jobs at its Joliet fulfillment center.
The announcement was made during an event at Joliet Junior College where Amazon, which opened the Joliet facility in October, presented a $5,000 check to support scholarships for veterans at the college.
The new jobs will bring the employee count at the Joliet facility to 1,500.
Mike Flannery, general manager of the Joliet fulfillment center, said the expansion reflects growing demand and the success of the local operation.
“It just speaks to the growth of the industry and the great people who work in the community,” he said.
He said Amazon is hiring now and plans to fill the positions as soon as possible.
Flannery got a round of applause at the JJC event when he announced Amazon was adding “500 full-time jobs with benefits starting on Day 1.”
The announcement added to what Mayor Bob O’Dekirk called “the economic boom” on the south end of Joliet, where Amazon and other companies have been adding distribution facilities and other industrial operations.
O’Dekirk was one of a several speakers during the Amazon event at JJC.
“If you look around the state ... there’s not a lot of good economic news happening,” O’Dekirk said. “That’s not true in Joliet.”
The check presentation was made at JJC’s Veterans Resource Center, a facility that provides tutoring, counseling and other services to veterans taking classes at the college.
JJC President Deb Daniels said there are typically 350 veterans taking classes at the college each semester.
“The college has specifically developed new veterans support programs, especially in the last five years,” Daniels said.
She called the $5,000 donation “our first step in what I believe to be a long and fruitful partnership with Amazon Fulfillment.”
JJC also has a Global Supply Chain Management and Logistics program aimed at providing courses for people working in the logistics industry being developed in Joliet. While Amazon opened last year, Ikea, Whirlpool and Mars also have announced plans to open distribution centers in Joliet. The city also is home to distribution operations for Home Depot and Dollar Tree.
Business Department Chairman Bill O’Connor said many people are unaware of the opportunities in the logistics business.
“These are serious jobs,” he said. “These are not just low-level jobs. These are jobs that can lead to great careers.”
O’Connor called the Amazon announcements Wednesday “terrific.”
“They have a serious commitment to education,” he said. “They understand the importance of having skilled workers.”
Flannery noted in his remarks that Amazon has a Career Choice program that pays 95 percent of tuition and fees for workers taking college classes, even if the fields of study are not directly related to their work.
He also said Amazon values veterans in its workforce in Joliet and elsewhere. Flannery said Amazon hired 3,800 veterans last year and more than 10,000 since 2011. The company also provides support services for veterans coming out of military service and making a transition to civilian life, he said.