ROSSFORD — Amazon.com announced Monday morning that it is building a fulfillment center on 100 acres in The Crossroads, just east of I-75 and north of U.S. 20/23 near Rossford. A second center will be a location in Akron.
Rossford Mayor Neil MacKinnon said Amazon was eyeing a new fulfillment center late last year and was considering 11 sites in places such as Lima; Fort Wayne, Ind.; and Detroit. He said Rossford was not on the radar originally.
Lima Mayor David Berger and David Stratton, president of Allen Economic Development Group, said they weren’t involved with any pitch and didn’t have any information about Amazon’s interest in Lima.
“We never gave a pitch,” Stratton wrote via text message. “We were never contacted or made aware of there being an Amazon opportunity.”
Doug Olsson, the incoming president and CEO of Greater Lima Region Inc., acknowledged there was a review process but wasn’t clear if Lima was part of it. He noted the process happened before he joined the GLR staff.
“From a regional perspective, we’re glad Amazon places high value on Northwest Ohio,” Olsson wrote in an email.
Rossford and Amazon officials were mum for months on details, but The Blade reported in December that experts believed all signs pointed to Amazon being the mystery tenant for “Project Freddie.”
MacKinnon called it “monumental” for the region.
“For a company that’s so advanced like Amazon to narrow their top two sites to Rossford out of (several options) from three different states is a testament to our geography,” MacKinnon said. “I-75 is the longest north and south highway, 80-90 (the nearby Ohio Turnpike) is the longest east and west highway. The rest of the world is starting to recognize our geography.”
Rossford got in the running when an intermediary between Amazon and the mayor asked to see Rossford’s inventory. Mayor MacKinnon showed him The Crossroads and property between Buck and Mandell roads.
“He calls me a week later and says it’s down to five sites — Rossford is two of them,” Mayor MacKinnon said. “It was November or December, and Rossford was two of three. Then down to two — both in Rossford.”
Amazon spokesman Andre Woodson said Rossford’s geography was a key selling point.
“One of our primary factors that go into our thought process on where to place a new fulfillment center is location,” Woodson said. “We’re responding to customer demand and want to make sure our fulfillment centers are close to customers so we can offer great Prime service and fast shipping speeds. We also strategically look for locations that provide robust public infrastructure, a strong, dedicated workforce and great local support — and we’ve found all of those factors in Rossford.”
The facility is expected to be up and running by August 2020. At least 1,000 jobs will be created initially, and MacKinnon said that number could eventually climb to 3,000.
Amazon offers a minimum wage of $15 an hour and a full benefits package, plus free job training and up to 90 percent tuition reimbursement.
The fulfillment center will be 85 feet tall and occupy 700,000 square feet with a total footprint of 2.8 million square feet. Plans also call for 1,800 parking spaces and 300 truck bays.
A noise wall will be built on the facility’s north end, where trucks will operate. Entrances will be located at Compass Drive and Crossroads Parkway, and the site will include a fence and guard shack.
Several variances were approved by the city in May, including permits to erect the eight-foot chain-link fence and 16-foot noise barrier.
MacKinnon said it’s possible Rossford will improve certain streets to handle increased traffic.
City council, the Rossford Board of Education, and the Wood County Commissioners previously approved a 15-year abatement for real estate taxes on the project’s assessed value. The school district will still collect 100 percent of the taxes it would normally have received and expects to collect $579,000 annually from an enterprise zone agreement.
Mackenzi Klemann, of The Lima News, contributed to this story.