ROMEOVILLE – Gov. Bruce Rauner took a tour of the Amazon fulfillment center in Romeoville during its grand opening Thursday.
He joined local officials at a ceremony to recognize the growing presence of Amazon in Will County.
“Amazon is one of the greatest companies in the world,” Rauner said. “They’re transforming the world’s economy and we’re honored to have them headquartered here in America. And we’re very blessed and very honored to have them making a major commitment to the people of Illinois.”
Rauner praised the state’s workers and the transportation network as the big reasons Amazon is deciding to set up shop in Illinois.
In Will County, Amazon also opened two fulfillment centers in Joliet and has another one under construction in Monee. The Romeoville center opened in September.
“They are driving massive transformation of the delivery of goods and services to the people of America, and they’re doing it right here in the state of Illinois,” Rauner said.
Rauner said the Romeoville center was built without tax incentives, and Amazon asked for no special deal. In total, Rauner said Amazon committed to nine facilities in the state, which would create 8,000 jobs in Illinois by the end of 2018.
Amazon Romeoville general manager Victor Davis said that the centers offer “opportunity and a career path” toward a “long-term future” for their employees.
He said Amazon pays wages that are 30 percent higher than traditional jobs in retail as well as provides health insurance, disability insurance, retirement savings plans and company stock awards. He said Amazon also offers up to 20 weeks of paid leave and what he described as “innovative benefits” to help new parents.
Romeoville Mayor John Noak thanked Amazon for its investment in the community.
“From day one they have asked us how to get involved – how do they reach out and get involved in charitable events and things like that,” Noak said.
Noak said Amazon began “pushing” for opportunities to get involved with the community while the company still was renovating the facility to get it ready for business.
Amazon provided $5,000 to the Joliet Township High School Cyborgs robotics team earlier this year to cover costs for an international competition in St. Louis.
“Amazon is always looking for ways to provide the generation of innovators with opportunities to explore and advance their experience with technology,” said Tom Krut, the Amazon Joliet general manager.
Rauner used the forum to promote his agenda for lower taxes and less regulation.
He said that for companies such as Amazon, Illinois’ workforce and location are enough, but for “literally hundreds” of other companies, high property taxes and regulations “block them out.”
“We could be and should be America’s job creation destination,” Rauner said. “We’ve got the people, the hardest working people in America. We have the best location of any state in America. We should be kicking tails.”
At least for Romeoville and Will County, Amazon’s new facilities not only are a sign of economic growth, but also of a changing economy.
Noak said Amazon adds tax revenue for the village, bring new types of jobs, and works with business and educational institutions already in place to invest in the local economy.
“Hopefully this helps us attract new e-commerce companies as we go forward,” Noak said. “With a blend of not only the logistics side, but the office jobs and technology jobs, and blend all those together to continue to grow our economy.”