Amazon operation in Kettering could add jobs, faster delivery

Plans to bring an Amazon distribution center to the Kettering Business Park on Wilmington Pike are on such a fast track that the giant e-commerce retailer could start operations there late this summer, according to city officials.

“The City of Kettering can confirm that the potential e-retail tenant for the Kettering Business Park is Amazon,” Kettering Economic Development Manager Gregg Gorsuch said Wednesday. “TW Development is currently in negotiations with Amazon for a long-term lease that will bring a last-mile distribution center and several hundred new jobs to Kettering.”

Jim McCarthy of TW Development Group told the Dayton Daily News on Wednesday that Amazon wanted to move forward and announce its intentions.

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“There still hasn’t been a lease executed yet as they are still working through details,” McCarthy said. “But we are cautiously optimistic that we will have something signed by the middle of March hopefully.”

Gorsuch said with a “last-mile delivery system,” larger trucks bring packages in overnight, then they are sorted here and put on smaller Amazon delivery vans to be taken to residences and businesses. He said the site would likely have a mix of management, warehouse and driver jobs, and “a majority of them will be good paying jobs.”

Amazon would not confirm the Kettering project or comment on specifics. But an Amazon representative did say early media reports of more than 300 full-time jobs at a Kettering site were “factually inaccurate.” The representative said Amazon delivery stations feature a mix of full-time, part-time and independent contractor roles, and “They’re primarily made up of part-time jobs.”

The land sale agreement between the city of Kettering and TW Development says the developer agrees to bring a minimum of 300 “full-time equivalent jobs” to the company’s property by the end of 2021. That can include a calculation where, for example 100 part-time jobs could be counted as 30 or 50 or 70 “full-time equivalents” based on the number of hours worked.

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McCarthy said there are no exact estimates on the number of jobs. But he said there is no reason to believe anything negative could manifest itself to cause the project to fail.

“I have no reason to believe anything negative about this,” he said. “But it’s not done until it’s done is our attitude. We will continue to work with (the city) and Amazon on a daily basis to get this across the finish line.”

Chris Kershner, executive vice president of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, said the Dayton region has attracted a slew of logistics and distribution businesses because of a strong workforce and a location near I-70, I-75, a major airport and rail lines. A huge chunk of the U.S. population is reachable in a day’s drive.

Gorsuch said this project is a little different because it is micro-focused on local delivery. He said he believes Amazon chose this site in part for its ability to reach the largest number of Dayton-area households with deliveries the most quickly.

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Gorsuch could not say whether that means the Dayton market could have same-day Amazon delivery, and Amazon representatives did not answer questions on that topic. Amazon already has facilities in Monroe, Wilmington, Columbus and in northern Kentucky near the Cincinnati airport.

Last week, Kettering City Council approved an agreement to sell three Kettering Business Park parcels totaling 14.2 acres to TW Development Group out of Cincinnati for $210,001. If the complete deal goes through, the city will reimburse the developer up to $1.1 million for demolition of a 200,000 square-foot warehouse on the northeast side of the property.

TW Development already owns the similar-sized building immediately to the west, and that is where the Amazon facility would be located, according to city officials, with the demolition site becoming parking and truck-bay areas. Gorsuch said TW will put $8.5 million into renovating the building for Amazon, and the other small businesses currently at one end of the building will remain there.

The agreement approved by city council last week says the warehouse demolition would have to be complete by 270 days after the sale closes. “Redevelopment” has to be done by 365 days after the closing. The closing is expected in March, after the TW’s due diligence deadline of Feb. 28.

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The agreement between the city and TW development says the company will pay all taxes and assessments due after the closing. The city will pay all delinquent taxes and assessments, penalties and interest. Gorsuch said there is no tax abatement deal in place, either for income taxes or real estate taxes.

Kettering Business Park is the former Gentile Air Force Station and Defense Electronics Supply Center, just south of the Dayton-Kettering border. Since the city took over the site in 1996 it has tried to offset the loss of more than 2,500 jobs from the Air Force consolidation. Gorsuch said if this project goes through, the site will pass 2,500 jobs.

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Most of those are the 2,000 employees of Synchrony Financial. But Alternate Solutions Health Network has invested millions of dollars in its facilities at the site, and Kettering Health Network opened a command center there this month, according to the city. There are still 14 acres available for development.

Kershner said the Chamber of Commerce understands the pressure that e-commerce has put on local retailers but believes both can survive and thrive.

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“Local businesses are our friends, our neighbors and our families, and the money you spend there stays in our community,” Kershner said. “So it’s extremely important to support those local businesses, and just because we have e-commerce facilities that are opening up in the Dayton region doesn’t necessarily mean that those local mom and pop stores won’t still have value and a role to play in a retail environment. There will be consumers who seek out that personal service and that local impact.”

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