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Amazon Breaks Ground On New Facility In Kansas City, Kansas

Catilin Troutman
KCUR 89.3
Kansas City, Kansas, Mayor Mark Holland (third from left,) Amazon VP Gary Guo and Kansas Governor Sam Brownback turn the cermonial dirt at Tuesday's groundbreaking ceremony for Amazon's new fulfillment center in Kansas City, Kansas.

Amazon has officially started construction on a huge new fulfillment center in Kansas City, Kansas. 

The facility, which will sit on 190 acres of land near Interstate 70 and the Turner Diagonal, will provide more than 1,000 jobs to the underutilized area. 

Gary Guo, Amazon's Vice President of North America Operations, said the center will host Amazon's robotic technologies. It will fill orders for small items like books, electronics, and small household items. 

He said the center will be operating by the peak of holiday shopping in 2017. 

At the ceremonial groundbreaking on Tuesday, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback — who says he's been working on this deal for years — said this only reinforces the state's dedication to technology and innovation. 

Credit Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3
KCUR 89.3
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback speaks with partners at Amazon's ceremonial groundbreaking. He says he hopes the new fulfillment center will spark economic growth in a largely undeveloped area of Wyandotte County.

"Kansas is a state of innovation. We want to be on that cutting edge of innovation and Amazon is a company that does that cutting edge innovation," Brownback said. 

He says Kansas' position as a leader in renewable energy was attractive to Amazon. By the end of his term in office, he says the state could be getting 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, primarily wind power.  

Brownback is also looking forward to the company sparking more development in a largely undeveloped part of Wyandotte County. 

"They'll probably open up this area of Kansas City with this [facility.] We'll be putting in more money on the road and region here on the Turner Diagonal. So that opens up this whole area for further development," Brownback says. 

The location of the center is good news to Kansas City, Kansas, Mayor Mark Holland.

"This site being centrally located where we are is within 6 miles of 75 percent of the population on Wyandotte county and it’s just one mile off of our major bus line," Holland said.

He said the city would be working on how to connect the bus line directly to the facility.

The day it opens, he says, it will be the fourth largest employer in Wyandotte County.

Credit Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3
KCUR 89.3
The Schlagle High School Band played at the ceremony. Kansas City, Kansas, Mayor Mark Holland says he looks forward to the educational partnerships between local schools and Amazon.

The center will also have classrooms within the facility to help people on the path for an associate's degree. Employees who choose to pursue that option will have 95 percent of their associate's degree pair for by Amazon after one year working there. 

"It's a real path to the future for our residents and our community," Holland said. 

This will be Amazon's 5th facility in Kansas. In March, Amazon announced another big new fulfillment center going in Edgerton, Kansas which will also employ upwards of 1,000 people.

The company had a center in Coffeyville, but closed it in early 2015. At its peak, it employed about 1,000 employees as well.

Lisa Rodriguez is a reporter for KCUR. Connect with her on Twitter @larodrig

Slow news days are a thing of the past. As KCUR’s news director, I want to cut through the noise, provide context to the headlines, and give you news you can use in your daily life – information that will empower you to make informed decisions about your neighborhood, your city and the region. Email me at lisa@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @larodrig.
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