As construction moves along on an 800,000-square-foot Amazon fulfillment center in Elkhart, with plans for a separate,180,000-square-foot delivery facility, workforce officials are trying to figure out how to hire 1,000 workers in a county where the unemployment rate is below two percent. The South Bend Tribune reports the e-commerce company appears undeterred by the challenge.
The latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows Elkhart County’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate stood at 1.7%, compared to 2.7% for the state and 3.8% for the nation.
The company announced plans last fall to invest more than $200 million to build two facilities in the county, a multi-story regional hub and last-mile delivery depot. The second, smaller, facility is set to break ground later this year.
Amazon is competing for workers with northern Indiana’s massive recreational vehicle industry, which allows more than 35,000 people. With demand remaining strong for RVs and boats, the publication says employers have improved wages, benefits and even working conditions to get the employees they need.
“This is not a new phenomenon that we need employees,” said Chris Stager, president and chief executive officer of the Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County. “We’ve been averaging 1,900 new job announcements per year for the past 10 years.”
Stager says RV makers draw workers from six surrounding counties and within a 60-mile range of Elkhart.
He says proximity to the Indiana Toll Road helps make the commute easier for workers.
Amazon plans to open both facilities in 2023. The company says the fulfillment center will be a “state-of-the-art” building, using the latest robotics.
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