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July 13, 2012

A river of jobs: Lines were long for Amazon job fair with 1,000 positions promised

NEW ALBANY — It’s said the early bird gets the worm, and in New Albany on Thursday, there were plenty of applicants hungry for one of the 1,000 jobs Amazon.com Inc. has promised to bring to Southern Indiana by 2015.

Though the job fair didn’t begin until 11 a.m., the line started to form outside the WorkOne center off State Street well before the doors opened.

“We had a guy here at 5 a.m.,” said Adam Clark, business consultant for WorkOne.

There were already 30 people waiting to get in by 8 a.m., and the line only swelled as the time for interviews neared.

“It’s the economy and it’s the nature of these jobs,” Clark said of the reason why so many people were willing to wait for an opportunity to apply at Amazon.

Most of the positions are for full-time warehouse associates — which are jobs that pay $11 an hour and include benefits. Since Amazon will train their hires for the positions, Clark said experience wasn’t a prime qualification needed to be considered for employment by the company.

Of course lifting is part of the job so some degree of physical fitness is needed for the positions, Clark said, but he added Amazon’s primary aim is to be customer friendly.

The new general manager for the Amazon fulfillment center, Greg Walsh, was on hand for the job fair but didn’t accept questions from media.

WorkOne — the wing of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development that primarily assists unemployed Hoosiers in finding employment —  assisted with the fair because of Amazon’s impact on the local job market, Clark said.

“Ultimately employment trumps everything,” he said. “If we can get people in jobs, that’s our mission.”

Amazon is hoping to fill the bulk of the positions for its 1-million-square-foot distribution center at River Ridge in Clark County by the fall, Clark said.

Clark and Floyd counties have consistently recorded lower unemployment rates than the state average in recent years. Clark said bringing Amazon — which he likened to the addition of a major manufacturing plant to the region — to the area will only strengthen the job market.

Southern Indiana has easy access to major intestates, and many commercial and industrial locations in Floyd and Clark counties are closer to the heart of Louisville than similarly zoned places in Jefferson County, Ky., he continued.

Add in that Kentucky and Indiana are working toward building more bridges and it’s easy to see why so many industries and businesses are choosing or considering the area for their establishments, Clark said.

“We have really solid economic development programs in Indiana,” he said. “It’s a business friendly state.”

Amazon will communicate primarily with applicants through email, Clark said. For more information, visit the website www.workatamazonfulfillment.com.

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Sierra Proctor, 13, New Albany, looks through a clothing rack at the Clarksville Salvation Army Thrift Store along Little League Boulevard on Wednesday morning. Students enrolled in any level of schooling in Floyd, Clark, Washington, and Scott counties were eligible for the back-to-school clothing giveaway.

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