Deal to lure Amazon to bay area cost millions, but local leaders say the jobs are worth it

Amazon to build two warehouses in Lakeland, Ruskin

LAKELAND, Fla. - It took more than a year and half and several million dollars in incentives, but the deal is finally done: Amazon is coming to the bay area.

The online retail giant announced on Tuesday it's building two warehouses, in Lakeland and Ruskin.

"This is a huge deal. It's a very big brand recognized not only around the United States but around the world," said Lakeland Mayor Gow Fields.

The Lakeland warehouse will ship bigger items like TV's and kayaks, while the Ruskin facility will focus on smaller items like books and DVDs.

At one point, Winter Haven tried to lure Amazon to its new rail terminal but that deal fell through.

"First and foremost, we look to see if it's a good fit and feel for our community and we felt like they were," said Claudia Tritton with the Lakeland Economic Development Council.

Just for the Lakeland warehouse, it took more than eight million dollars in incentives from the state, county and city to seal with deal with Amazon.

But it will benefit in the long run.

As part of the deal, Amazon agreed to focus on hiring people in Polk County.

In August, the unemployment rate in Polk was 8.4-percent, a notch about Florida's 7.1 percent.

"Just from name recognition, it's a big deal but more importantly because of the jobs that it's going to bring to our community," Tritton said.

The Lakeland warehouse is expected to create as many as 500 jobs over time, with an average salary of more than $40,000.

Another 500 jobs are expected in Ruskin.
 

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