Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
One of the world’s biggest companies is planting roots in New Mexico.
Amazon confirmed late Tuesday that it is opening a new fulfillment center in the Albuquerque metro area, one it says will bring 1,000 full-time jobs.
The center is slated for the area near Interstate 40 and Atrisco Vista Boulevard where the Bernalillo County Commission on Tuesday approved a $6.5 million series of infrastructure upgrades.
The multi-level center is 465,000 square feet, according to the company.
“It is a big deal,” Bernalillo County Manager Julie Morgas Baca said about Amazon’s project, which will go in the vicinity of existing companies like Shamrock Foods and Tempur-Pedic.
Work has already started; Arizona-based developer BHDevCo broke ground at the site in March, and Morgas Baca said the company is “moving fast.”
An Amazon spokeswoman said the plan is to open the facility by the end of 2021.
The warehouse’s employees will make Amazon’s $15 per hour minimum wage, Amazon spokeswoman Lisa Guinn said in an email.
“We appreciate the strong support from county and state leaders, and look forward to continuing to serve customers with great delivery options across the state and region,” Guinn said.
The New Mexico center will use robotics to help employees fulfill orders for small items such as books, electronics and toys, according to the company.
Amazon has come under fire for working conditions at its warehouses; a 2019 analysis by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting found the 23 Amazon sites it studied combined for a serious injury rate over twice the national average for warehouses. Officials said that is because they diligently track injuries, according to The Atlantic. Many have also criticized the company’s handling of COVID-19.
While not everyone will cheer Amazon’s arrival, Morgas Baca said that it is a positive development during a trying time.
New Mexico, like the entire country, has seen surging unemployment during the pandemic.
“Right now with the economy the way it is, and people losing their jobs, I just think it’s a little ray of sunshine for Bernalillo County,” Morgas Baca said.
All New Mexico employees will go through safety training, according to the company.
Morgas Baca said the county is not providing economic development incentives, like industrial revenue bonds, for Amazon, though the improvements to the Atrisco Vista corridor — which the county has been working toward for years — helped lure the company to the area.
Amazon has neither applied for nor been offered any state-level incentives either, according to a spokesman for the New Mexico Economic Development Department.
County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley said the county long ago targeted the Atrisco Vista corridor for economic development, seeing it as a way to help diminish the housing-to-jobs imbalance west of the Rio Grande. She said the planned improvements will serve multiple parcels in the area.
“It makes sense for us to continue to invest in improvements along the roadway because there is the potential for more industry — especially large industry — there,” O’Malley said.
Journal business editor Gabrielle Porter contributed to this report.