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Local News

Amazon goes East – in Will County

A sign directs traffic through the Joliet Amazon fulfillment center May 25 in Joliet. The Seattle-based company has announced plans to open a fourth fulfillment center in the county, with the latest one in Monee.
A sign directs traffic through the Joliet Amazon fulfillment center May 25 in Joliet. The Seattle-based company has announced plans to open a fourth fulfillment center in the county, with the latest one in Monee.

MONEE – The latest Amazon fulfillment center to be announced might be called Amazon East in Will County.

Amazon last week announced that it plans a fourth fulfillment center in Will County, but this one is going into an area far enough from the others that it is expected to draw from a different worker pool.

The 850,000-square-foot Monee fulfillment center is being built at the Interstate 57 interchange with Manhattan-Monee Road, making it easily accessible by car for workers coming from south suburban Cook County as well as the surrounding towns of eastern Will County.

“We’re very excited,” Monee Village Administrator Ruben Bautista said. “It’s going to bring more jobs to our area – not only to the village but also the region.”

At least 2,000 jobs, Bautista said he has been told.

Will County Executive Larry Walsh Sr. said he heard Amazon will employ as many as 2,500 workers, which would make the Monee facility the fulfillment center with the most jobs of the four expected to be in place in the county by the fourth quarter of 2017.

“Last summer at this time we had no employment at Amazon,” Walsh said, noting how rapidly the e-commerce company has been moving into Will County. “Now the largest one of all is going to be build in eastern Will County.”

In less than two years, Amazon could go from zero jobs in the county to about 6,500 employees depending on two factors: Whether the job count at three facilities yet to open is as high as expected, and whether Amazon announces any more plans to add operations in Will County.

The number of Amazon fulfillment centers going into Will County is partly due to the fact that it is “such a huge county,” said John Greuling, chief executive officer of the Will County Center for Economic Development.

“The best thing for us from an economic development standpoint is that it’s on the east side of the county,” Greuling said. “There’s a tremendous workforce out in the south suburbs.”

Monee and surrounding eastern Will County towns have seen some economic development. Near the future Amazon facility is a 1 million-square-foot Michelin distribution center, but that facility is being phased out as the tire company moves operations to Wilmington.

Development along I-57 has not matched the pace of what has been seen along Interstate 80, the nearest interstate for Amazon’s operations in Joliet (one open and one under development), and Interstate 55, which is near a fulfillment center being developed in Romeoville.

Amazon has not confirmed the size of the workforce in Monee other than to say it will include “hundreds and hundreds” of jobs. They also have not said when it will open.

But it could open next summer.

“They’re on a fast track,” Bautista said. “I think that they’re looking to be operating by July 2017.”

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