Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal
LOS LUNAS – Amazon is doubling down on its New Mexico presence.
The e-commerce giant has started construction on a massive fulfillment center in Los Lunas, which it anticipates will eventually employ more than 600 full-time workers.
The facility of more than 1 million square feet is slated to open sometime in 2023, the company wrote in a release.
Workers at the facility will pick, pack and ship items for delivery, and can expect an average starting wage of $15 per hour.
The announcement comes a little less than two years after Amazon broke ground on its first New Mexico fulfillment center on Albuquerque’s West Side, which the company said currently employs about 3,500 part-time and full-time employees. Village of Los Lunas Senior Economic Developer Kristen Gamboa, who was approached by a site selection professional early last spring, said the “whirlwind” pace of the project is an indicator of market forces at play.
“Most projects in economic development are extremely long-term, and the fact that this one wasn’t is, I think, a testament to … the pandemic and how it made everyone shop online, and the need for more distribution-type centers, more regionally and locally – and, second, a testament to the business-friendly climate that the greater Albuquerque metro has,” Gamboa said.
While it will take a few years after opening for the site to reach its full employment level, the center is expected to quickly become one of the biggest private employers in Los Lunas.
The average starting wage of $15 per hour will also likely give Amazon a hiring edge; Gamboa said the current average wage in Los Lunas’ industrial parks is about $13.50 per hour.
“This Amazon facility is a significant economic development opportunity for the Village of Los Lunas,” Los Lunas Mayor Charles Griego said in a prepared statement. “Their investment into the community during the post-pandemic climate will be transformative, generating overÂ 600 full-time jobsÂ and a total economic impact ofÂ $300 million. Our ability to create more employment opportunities for our local families could not have come at a better time and we are beyond excited to have Amazon become another great community partner.”
The Amazon site sits on part of the 2,000-acre Huning Ranch Business & Tech Park, in the heart of a burgeoning industrial corridor. To its east is the 730-acre campus of the Facebook Data Center, which in the fall announced plans to bring its total number of buildings to eight. Beyond that lies yet another industrial center, Los Morros Business Park, which is home to an enormous Walmart distribution center, among other tenants.
Farther to the west on N.M. 6 is the Central New Mexico Rail Park, which offers a dedicated rail spur and access to the BNSF Transcontinental Line, with routes to Los Angeles and Chicago. The two-lane highway – which Gamboa said is set to be widened in the near future – also offers a direct link to Interstate 40 about 30 miles from the Amazon site.
Gamboa said local leaders have envisioned the area’s potential for “decades.”
“Basically west of I-25, north of our main road, that’s all designated, planned and zoned for industrial use,” Gamboa said. “That has been the plan.”
Now, construction is moving forward through efforts of a mix of local and regional organizations. Bob Feinberg and Tom Jones of Colliers International Albuquerque brokered the deal on behalf of the company, while Trevor Hatchell and Matt Butkus with Land Services Group of CBRE represented the business park. Arizona-based developer BH DevCo and general contractor Ryan Companies – the same pair that built Amazon’s Albuquerque facility – first broke ground in September.
Amazon did not seek any public incentives for the site.
While the Facebook data center has been under public scrutiny for the amounts of water it uses to cool its equipment and maintain certain humidity levels, Gamboa said the Amazon center’s needs will be far less intense. Its water needs will be mainly for its employees: water for toilets, water fountains, possibly some sort of cafe, and landscaping.
“That’s one of the great things we liked about this project when they first came to talk, and any type of project that is more distribution/logistics centered,” she said. “It’s not going to be a heavy water user at all.”
Amazon is not yet advertising jobs at the new center. But a spokeswoman wrote in a release that in addition to the average $15-per-hour starting wage, full-time employees will receive benefits that the company values at about $3.50 per hour: health, vision, dental insurance; a 401(k) with a 50% company match; up to 20 weeks paid parental leave; and access to the company’s Career Choice program, which fully funds employees’ college tuition, including classes, books and fees.
“Los Lunas has a great workforce and we are excited to add to the amazing team currently helping us set a higher standard of operational excellence and delivering outstanding customer experience every day,” said Amazon Economic Development Policy Manager Sam Bailey in the release.