An early Christmas present, in a brown box

The phone call came around May.

A big-name company in a fast-growing industry with the cool factor to grab headlines was on the other end of the line, inquiring about Virginia.

And so arose the kind of opportunity economic-development types dream about: the chance to bag Amazon.

“It’s a huge get,” said Liz Povar, director of the business development division at the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.

Povar answered the call when Amazon expressed serious interest to open two huge fulfillment centers somewhere in the state. “We’ve had Amazon as one of our target companies for a number of years,” she said.

The deal, announced Wednesday by the governor’s office and state and local economic development groups, involves Seattle-based Amazon investing $135 million for two local fulfillment centers, including $85 million in Chesterfield County and $50 million in Dinwiddie County.

The facilities will bring 1,350 new jobs to the counties: 1,000 in Chesterfield and 350 in Dinwiddie. Those workers will fill and ship orders placed online by Amazon customers.

For a deal of this size – which includes more than 1 million square feet of warehouse space – the negotiation came together quickly.

It also came together quietly.

The VEDP, one of a handful of economic development groups that worked the deal, was tight-lipped with information, Povar said. Amazon demands confidentiality.

After getting the call, the VEDP sprang into action, putting together a package touting suitable locations across the state that could meet its workforce, space and logistical requirements. The VEDP also tried to show that the deal and the build-out could get done quickly. Amazon wanted to have the facilities open by next fall, in time for the busy holiday shopping season.

Dinwiddie and Chesterfield were very aggressive in making their case, Povar said. For example, BizSense first reported that Chesterfield County’s Economic Development Authority submitted the site plans for 1 million square feet of warehouse space for an unidentified user back in October.

The packages presented to Amazon also included incentives to help seal the deal.

Amazon ultimately will get $3.5 million in grants from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund. That money will help pay for site development at Meadowville Technology Park in Chesterfield County and Dinwiddie Commerce Park.

Amazon also will receive $850,000 in Tobacco Region Opportunity Funds for its site in Dinwiddie.

And the company will be eligible to receive benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program and financial assistance for its recruitment and training efforts from the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.

“We are aware that we are using dollars that come from our citizens, and we take that very seriously and want to ensure that when and if they are used they are used in a way that will create something that will last in the community,” Povar said.

Virginians from away as Suffolk, Surry, Emporia, Farmville and elsewhere are expected to go after these jobs.

“This is a massive footprint that will be a wonderful opportunity for employment for citizens who are hurting,” Povar said.

There could also be the ancillary impact of businesses that can work with Amazon’s new sites.

This Amazon deal will likely be what Povar called a stabilizer for existing businesses nearby.

“I would expect there to be increased opportunities for vendors in the IT sector, the packaging sector, and some existing Virginia businesses to take advantage of that,” she said. “The Richmond region probably through its FedEx and UPS hubs will get a lot of business from this.”

Will Davis, head of Chesterfield Economic Development, did not return calls or email by press time.

Amazon representatives also could not be reached for comment.

Read more about Amazon fulfillment centers: “Welcome to Amazon Town (Wall Street Journal)

Michael Schwartz is a BizSense reporter. Please send news tips to [email protected].

The phone call came around May.

A big-name company in a fast-growing industry with the cool factor to grab headlines was on the other end of the line, inquiring about Virginia.

And so arose the kind of opportunity economic-development types dream about: the chance to bag Amazon.

“It’s a huge get,” said Liz Povar, director of the business development division at the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.

Povar answered the call when Amazon expressed serious interest to open two huge fulfillment centers somewhere in the state. “We’ve had Amazon as one of our target companies for a number of years,” she said.

The deal, announced Wednesday by the governor’s office and state and local economic development groups, involves Seattle-based Amazon investing $135 million for two local fulfillment centers, including $85 million in Chesterfield County and $50 million in Dinwiddie County.

The facilities will bring 1,350 new jobs to the counties: 1,000 in Chesterfield and 350 in Dinwiddie. Those workers will fill and ship orders placed online by Amazon customers.

For a deal of this size – which includes more than 1 million square feet of warehouse space – the negotiation came together quickly.

It also came together quietly.

The VEDP, one of a handful of economic development groups that worked the deal, was tight-lipped with information, Povar said. Amazon demands confidentiality.

After getting the call, the VEDP sprang into action, putting together a package touting suitable locations across the state that could meet its workforce, space and logistical requirements. The VEDP also tried to show that the deal and the build-out could get done quickly. Amazon wanted to have the facilities open by next fall, in time for the busy holiday shopping season.

Dinwiddie and Chesterfield were very aggressive in making their case, Povar said. For example, BizSense first reported that Chesterfield County’s Economic Development Authority submitted the site plans for 1 million square feet of warehouse space for an unidentified user back in October.

The packages presented to Amazon also included incentives to help seal the deal.

Amazon ultimately will get $3.5 million in grants from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund. That money will help pay for site development at Meadowville Technology Park in Chesterfield County and Dinwiddie Commerce Park.

Amazon also will receive $850,000 in Tobacco Region Opportunity Funds for its site in Dinwiddie.

And the company will be eligible to receive benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program and financial assistance for its recruitment and training efforts from the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.

“We are aware that we are using dollars that come from our citizens, and we take that very seriously and want to ensure that when and if they are used they are used in a way that will create something that will last in the community,” Povar said.

Virginians from away as Suffolk, Surry, Emporia, Farmville and elsewhere are expected to go after these jobs.

“This is a massive footprint that will be a wonderful opportunity for employment for citizens who are hurting,” Povar said.

There could also be the ancillary impact of businesses that can work with Amazon’s new sites.

This Amazon deal will likely be what Povar called a stabilizer for existing businesses nearby.

“I would expect there to be increased opportunities for vendors in the IT sector, the packaging sector, and some existing Virginia businesses to take advantage of that,” she said. “The Richmond region probably through its FedEx and UPS hubs will get a lot of business from this.”

Will Davis, head of Chesterfield Economic Development, did not return calls or email by press time.

Amazon representatives also could not be reached for comment.

Read more about Amazon fulfillment centers: “Welcome to Amazon Town (Wall Street Journal)

Michael Schwartz is a BizSense reporter. Please send news tips to [email protected].

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james
james
10 years ago

No doubt this is great news. Any jobs announcement is welcome. But I have to ask, is this what Chesterfield thought about for tenants in their TECHNOLOGY park? The story says that people from Emporia, Suffolk, Surry and Farmville will apply for the jobs. Are they going to commute every day? The bulk of these jobs will be in Chesterfield, but the employees won’t be living in Chesterfield because there’s so little affordable housing. These aren’t $80,000 a year jobs. The average wage for shipping clerks at Amazon is about $15 an hour. I’m wondering… Amazon picked this area because… Read more »

Diana
Diana
10 years ago

Part-time, no benefits, minimum wage.

Steve
Steve
10 years ago

I guess having no jobs, collecting unemployment would be better, right Diana?

Jason
Jason
10 years ago

James and Diana, why speak so poorly of this exciting announcement? Not everyone in Chesterfield lives in the posh Salisbury area, James. The ave household income in Chesterfield is just under $70,000, which is in line with what 2 avg jobs at Amazon…The article talks about the likelihood of other IT vendors benefiting as well. Also, Amazon tends to locate data centers near their fulfillment centers–the good news re: Amazon may not be over.

joe
joe
10 years ago

Some people in Richmond ar negative about everything. Great news for the entire area.

Diana
Diana
10 years ago

Steve, do not pretend to know what I think would be better than this.

Michael Jones
Michael Jones
10 years ago

James and diana, get over it. Chesterfield is the cheap place to live in richmond. Face it, if you had unlimited cash, you would not live in chesterfield. It would be at the bottom of the list, or close. Chesterfield incomes are low relative to other areas of richmond. Where does this snootiness come from? Salsbury is nothing but particle board homes with a fake frontal made of brick and vinyl siding wrapping it all up. …and that is one of the nicer neighborhoods? Come on. Be happy for this. The aveage income of 37k these people will make is… Read more »

Elle Love
Elle Love
10 years ago

If it was raining silver dollars, I think Diana and James would complain that their bucket wasn’t big enough. What’s scary is that this is the mentality of a lot of people all around our country. I call it the entitlement mentality. Hey, Diana and James, you two let me know when you start up your own company and can employ over 1300 local people. Let me know when you two have figured out how to get 1300 people to pay taxes instead of live off of it. Let me know when you two geniuses take Economics 101 at a… Read more »

Diana
Diana
10 years ago

Elle, I have a degree in Economics.

jd
jd
10 years ago

It’s not just that Amazon is coming to town, but there will be a fallout effect from it as other vendors / suppliers etc will also come to town. Remember when Phillip Morris moved to Richmond and MWV came following? Who provides the packaging for Phillip Morris? Hummm. So to all those naysayers out there complaining that Amazon doesn’t pay, you need to see the forest through the trees to see that this picture is much bigger. Oh, and the Amazon facility is about 5 minutes from Hopewell, where housing is MUCH cheaper that Chesterfield, and rents start in the… Read more »

Bill
Bill
10 years ago

Diana – A degree in Econ! Wow! From where…Strayer U?

Mike
Mike
10 years ago

The Commonwealth of Virginia does not invest in economic development projects for low wage jobs. In fact, in order for a project to be eligible for grants from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund, those jobs must pay in excess of average wage of the locality in which it locates.

http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?000+cod+2.2-115

Josh
Josh
10 years ago

I used to live in Chesterfield. I made $12.75/hr and was able to get by ok. And that was while I was in school part time. There IS affordable housing and with this news, there is sure to be more of it soon.

It’s also a great investment for property owners. Most of Chesterfield is affordable. Buying now while it is in the early stages of booming (the growth there has been pretty huge over the last 8 years) is a great investment.

I really don’t see anything bad about Amazon coming to town.