By BRADEN LAMMERS
The 1-million-square foot distribution center Amazon.com Inc. has constructed along Ind. 62 in Jeffersonville is open for business.
The facility opened Monday, and Wednesday morning officials with the city of Jeffersonville lauded what the site will mean for businesses and development in the area.
“This will definitely have a huge impact on the city of Jeff[ersonville] ... Clark County and the whole Louisville metro area in more ways than one,” said Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore.
When the announcement was made that the online retailer was locating its fifth such center at the former Indiana Army Ammunition Plant, it was said that 1,050 jobs would come to Jeffersonville, along with the $150 million investment. However, there are 2,584 parking spaces at the location and seasonal employment is expected to exceed the number of permanent jobs.
Moore said, so far, Amazon has added a total of between 1,200 and 1,600 employees that are working at the facility in one morning and one afternoon shift.
With the employees flocking into the facility, there are some concerns of increased traffic congestion along Ind. 62. In addition to a new traffic light that is operational at the Cox Street and Ind. 62 intersection, another light — and improvements to the railroad crossing on Salem-Noble Road — planned for Salem-Noble Road and Ind. 62 is expected to be operational in about two weeks.
According to a Jeffersonville press release, Amazon is expected to begin shipping out of the distribution center about the same time that the aforementioned road work is completed Oct. 17.
Jeffersonville Police Chief Chris Grimm said the greater traffic concern is related to truck traffic when shipping begins.
He said it is expected that there will be between 300 to 500 trucks each day coming in and out of the facility when Amazon is fully operational. Grimm estimated when Amazon is running at full strength, it will triple the truck traffic coming out of River Ridge. He added that turn lanes already in place will greatly decrease some of the traffic concerns and there are plans to increase police patrols in the area.
But the bigger impact offered by Moore will be the development that will occur because Amazon has launched its operations at River Ridge Commerce Center.
“We certainly need another gas station or two and a couple of fast food restaurants up this way,” he said. “I hope this spurs some development from some private investors.”
Coupled with the groundbreaking for the east-end bridge, additional development is expected to follow Amazon’s lead in locating a facility in River Ridge.
“I think a lot of people pay attention to a company the size of Amazon,” Moore said. “Companies that have money and want to invest are looking for a place to relocate. Obviously, Jeffersonville, Ind., has jumped to the top of the list. Every need for getting to or from Jeffersonville is right here and you are going to see a whole lot of money invested in Jeffersonville.”
Moore added he has had conversations with companies wanting to locate at River Ridge, but would not offer the names of any interested parties.
Paul Wheatley, director of marketing and finance for River Ridge, confirmed that there is ongoing interest in sites at River Ridge, but again would not comment on specifics.
“Amazon definitely gave us a bit of a bounce on looks and inquiries,” he said.
Moore offered further support that a boom is coming to the city, as he said it has added 2,300 new jobs since the first of the year.
“It not only has the impact of jobs but ... we’ve got a land out here to be developed for subdivisions,” Moore said. “The housing market is going to take off because of this. The area businesses are going to reap the benefits from all of this. You’re going to see a huge impact.
“We’ve got to look at this as a competition. I’m competing with Louisville. I’m competing with Clarksville, Sellersburg, every city around here. I’ve got to make Jeffersonville the most attractive choice. So far, it seems to be working.”
Calls made to Amazon seeking comment earlier in the week were not returned by press time Wednesday.