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June 20, 2019

Amazon unveils North Haven fulfillment center. It’s big.

PHOTOS | New Haven Biz Interior of Amazon’s new 855,000-square-foot North Haven fulfillment center, slated to open late next month.

Jeff Bezos wasn’t there, but everyone else who could claim a connection, no matter how remote, was.

It was all hands on deck for politicians and public officials by (literally) the dozens Thursday morning as Amazon opened the doors to its new North Haven fulfillment center. The structure, sited on the former Pratt & Whitney engine plant off Washington Ave., houses 855,000 square feet of space — approximately 15 football fields.

It’s really big.

Scheduled to open in late July, the North Haven facility is Amazon’s second robotics fulfillment center in Connecticut. (The first opened in Windsor in 2016.) Amazon says the new center will on its own account for more than 1,800 new full-time jobs starting at $15 a hour with comprehensive benefits starting on day one.

In Connecticut, Amazon also has a sorting center in Wallingford, a delivery station in Bristol and an Amazon Air Hub in Hartford.

How big is really big?

The site was constructed using nearly 12,000 tons of structural steel and 62,764 cubic yards of concrete. The building (it’s one really big building) features 10 miles of conveyance and more than 100 miles of wiring/cable.

Amazon’s first “fulfillment center” was Jeff Bezos’ garage in West Bellevue, Wash., where the world’s richest man-to-be lived as a renter in 1994. That house, in comparison, was 1,540 square feet (the precise dimensions of the garage itself are not known).

There were no robots in Bezos’ garage, but the North Haven center is animated by state-of-the-art robotic technology, vision systems and, according to the company, some 20 years’ worth of software and mechanical innovations to fill customer orders of products from home goods to electronics to toys to books.

Visitors donned hard hats and neon-yellow vests to be led on one of three plant walking tours by Amazon PR people. Gov. Ned Lamont called the spectacle “inspiring” and a shining exemplar for the public sector.

Gov. Ned Lamont and Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz at the Thursday morning media preview. 

“We’re a Sears & Roebuck government,” Lamont said. “We need to move to an Amazon-type of government.”

Connecticut taxpayers may hope their state government doesn’t become quite so large, because the scale of Amazon’s operation is unmatched in the world of commerce — online or otherwise. Between 2010 and 2018 Amazon invested more than $1 billion in its local fulfillment infrastructure and compensation to employees throughout Connecticut. It has hired some 2,000 workers directly to date in the state, as well as 3,000 indirect jobs. The North Haven plant alone accounted for 250 construction jobs.

Did we mention it’s really big?

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