NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — With Amazon and Tennessee in agreement over the collection of sales taxes, the online retailer on Thursday finalized its plans to open two new distribution centers in Murfreesboro and Lebanon that are expected to create 1,300 new jobs.
Seattle-based Amazon.com Inc. earlier this year agreed to a deal to expand its presence in the state, with the requirement that Amazon would start collecting Tennessee sales taxes in 2014. The retailer already has facilities in Hamilton, Bradley and Wilson counties.
Amazon says the new distribution centers will employ about 1,300 people when they are completed next fall, bringing the online retailer’s total workforce at its five Tennessee facilities to more than 3,300.
The State Funding Board last week approved $7 million in grants to make infrastructure improvements at the sites in Murfreesboro and Lebanon. Bill Hagerty, commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development, said in a memo that Amazon’s investment in the two sites totals $145 million.
Republican Gov. Bill Haslam and Amazon officials in October announced the agreement for the company to begin collecting the state’s sales tax on items sold to customers in Tennessee.
Amazon was originally granted an indefinite waiver on collecting state sales taxes as part of a deal struck by Haslam’s Democratic predecessor, Phil Bredesen, that led the company to build its first two distribution centers in Tennessee earlier this year.
Haslam has said he will introduce legislation next year to solidify the tax deal, in keeping with a state attorney general’s opinion that the executive branch can’t unilaterally waive tax collection requirements.
Conventional retailers who must collect sales tax at their Tennessee stores have criticized the deal for not requiring Amazon to do the same sooner, giving the online retailer an unfair price advantage.
Amazon also announced it will donate $20,000 to the Books from Birth Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides books to preschool children in Tennessee.
Note: News release is below
Amazon News release (distributed by governor’s office):
Nashville, TN – Dec. 22, 2011 – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) today announced Amazon’s plans to open two new fulfillment centers in Tennessee, creating over 1,300 new jobs and $135 million in investment in the state. Together with existing facilities in Wilson, Hamilton and Bradley Counties, Amazon will now be creating more than 3,300 jobs and more than $270 million in investment in Tennessee.
“This is exciting news for Middle Tennessee and the entire state as Amazon continues to grow and expand its presence here,” Haslam said. “We appreciate the company’s significant investment and ongoing partnership to create and grow Tennessee jobs.”
“We’re thrilled to create more than 1,300 additional jobs in Tennessee and are thankful to Governor Haslam and state, county and local leaders for their continued commitment to Amazon jobs and investment,” said Dave Clark, vice president, Amazon North American operations. “We’re proud to call Tennessee home and look forward to serving our customers from these new facilities in Murfreesboro and Lebanon.”
As a growing member of the Tennessee community, Amazon also announced that it is donating $20,000 to the Books from Birth Foundation for its chapters in Wilson, Rutherford, Bradley and Hamilton counties – the locations of Amazon’s current and future fulfillment centers. Books from Birth is a nonprofit organization committed to helping preschool children develop their love of learning and reading.
“Today is another great day in Murfreesboro,” said Murfreesboro Mayor Tommy Bragg. “I am so proud and excited that Amazon has chosen Murfreesboro as its site of choice for one of their newest facilities. Having Amazon create so many new jobs here will be a great boost to our economy, and will provide our citizens the opportunity to have good quality jobs with a well known, respected, growing company.”
“Having a household name like Amazon in Rutherford County just adds to our county’s portfolio of top corporate entities in our area,” said Rutherford County Mayor Ernest Burgess. “With the national and global economies struggling to recover, this proves that Rutherford County is a destination for jobs and we wish Amazon great success in Murfreesboro and Rutherford County.”
“On behalf of Lebanon, TN, I want to thank Amazon and their partners for their confidence and commitment to our city,” said Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead. “This would not have been possible without the cooperation of the City Commission and its many city of Lebanon staff members, along with the contributions and financial support from the State of Tennessee and the Tennessee Valley Authority. We look forward to growing this new partnership for the benefit of our citizens, our city and for Amazon.”
“I’m pleased to see the city of Lebanon and Wilson County work together on such an important project and I look forward to welcoming Amazon and their operation to Wilson County,” said Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto. “I want to thank the Wilson County Commission, the Industrial Development Bond Board and the office of the Joint Economic and Community Development Board of Wilson County for their support and efforts in bringing another internationally known corporation to the community. A project of this nature only occurs when governments, the community and the company work together for the betterment of all.”
Amazon’s new facilities are expected to be completed next fall. Amazon Fulfillment Centers in Tennessee are operated by Amazon.com.dedc LLC.