Amazon Gets $4.5M Grant to Build in Delaware

(CN) — Hungry for the 1,000 full-time jobs that the e-commerce giant is promising, Delaware tax authorities approved a $4.5 million grant Monday to Amazon.

The decision from the Council on Development Finance came in response to a 103-page application where Amazon described plans to build a fulfillment center at a shuttered General Motors plant in Newport, Delaware, about 5 miles southeast of Wilmington.

Packages pass through a scanner at an Amazon fulfillment center in Baltimore. (Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

Amazon plans to invest $250 million into the project, hiring 50 managers who will earn annual salaries of $60,000 as well as 950 associates who will earn between $31,000 and $33,000 per year, depending on their ranks. Amazon representative Holly Sullivan told the council that the company would attempt to hire these workers locally.

“It’s a lot easier to hire people locally,” Sullivan said, according to a report from Delaware Online. “We are committed to doing that.”

Amazon also plans to invest $50 million in equipment and between $200 million and $300 million in “real estate improvements,” with the site expected to launch between 2021 and 2022.

At least one member of the seven-person council opposed the grant to Amazon, which netted $11.6 billion in profit last year.

“The fact that this Council on Development Finance is only releasing details of the deal today is an insult to the public’s right to know,” Representative John Kowalko, D-Newark, said at the hearing, according to Delaware Online. “We are about to give away $4.5 million to one of the wealthiest companies in the world with no reasons being made public except that the grant was recommended by the unaccountable and nontransparent ‘Delaware Prosperity Partnership.’”

An economic development agency, the Delaware Prosperity Agency told the council that Delaware was facing competition for the center from other states.

The grant money will be taken from Delaware’s Strategic Fund, which is money reserved to attract new businesses and jobs to the state. Before the project can begin, Delaware and Amazon will now enter contract negotiations to determine goalposts Amazon must hit for the grant money. These talks are expected to last about three months.

Damian DeStefano, chair of the Delaware Economic Development Authority, said in a statement Monday that he was excited about the new fulfillment center.

“The 1,000 new jobs being created will have a positive impact not just on the families of those working at the facility but on the state as a whole,” DeStefano said. “It is also great to see the old Boxwood Road General Motors plant being reborn. As with most large economic development projects, we had competition from other states for this investment. Tools like the Strategic Fund ensure that we continue to win these opportunities.”

Amazon senior manager Brad Griggs, who is listed as the project’s primary contact on the application, did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment Monday.

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