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Local News

Amazon expansion in Will County gets officials' attention

A sign directs traffic through the Joliet Amazon fulfillment center May 25 in Joliet. The Seattle-based company will open a second fulfillment center in the fall in Joliet.
A sign directs traffic through the Joliet Amazon fulfillment center May 25 in Joliet. The Seattle-based company will open a second fulfillment center in the fall in Joliet.

Amazon’s announcement last week that it will open a third fulfillment center in Will County is getting attention.

Local officials hope it’s the kind of attention that will lead to more business growth and better roads to support development.

Amazon is the kind of company that gets noticed when it announces a new facility, said John Greuling, CEO of the Will County Center for Economic Development.

“I get calls from my associates in other states who ask, ‘What’s in the water in Will County that Amazon is locating so many fulfillment centers there?’” Greuling said.

Amazon announced Tuesday that it will open a 750,000-square-foot fulfillment center in Romeoville. The e-commerce retailer is taking over a one-time Montgomery Ward distribution center in the Windham Lakes Business Park.

Romeoville Mayor John Noak said the building is already full of construction workers retrofitting it so Amazon can start operating in the fall.

“There are probably 100 cars out there right now because of construction workers on the project,” Noak said.

The mayor said news of the Amazon facility is spreading fast, mainly because of the 600 jobs the site has to offer. He said the village has seen other e-commerce prospects, including brick-and-mortar retailers scouting facilities for their online operations, and he hopes the Amazon announcement will persuade some of them to locate in Romeoville.

“Hopefully, this sends a signal to the entire industry,” Noak said.

The Amazon fulfillment center will be located near the Interstate 55 interchange at Weber Road, which local officials want to see improved to relieve traffic congestion already there.

Amazon is in the process of preparing a second fulfillment center in Joliet at the Laraway Crossings Business Park, where it opened its first local fulfillment center in October 2015. Those operations are located near the Interstate 80 interchange at Route 53, an old interchange that local officials also want improved.

Greuling said the business growth in Will County is getting the attention of state officials who make decisions on where to spend money on roads.

Gov. Bruce Rauner said as much when he was in Joliet with state Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn this month to announce a future bridge to be built at Houbolt Road over the Des Plaines River to accommodate truck traffic headed for I-80.

“These projects,” Greuling said, “are going to drive a lot of significant infrastructure improvement, which is good.”

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AMAZON IN WILL COUNTY

• Fulfillment center opens October 2015 in Laraway Crossing Business Park in Joliet; employs 1,500 workers.

• Amazon in May announces second Joliet fulfillment center in Laraway Crossings Business Park; will employ 2,000 in the fall.

• Amazon announced Tuesday a fulfillment center in Romeoville. Local officials expect it to open in the fall with 600 employees.

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