Amazon to add 100 jobs at Kennewick call center

Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldJuly 30, 2013 

Amazon.com is adding 100 jobs at its Kennewick call center as part of a nationwide expansion.

The world's largest online retailer already employs more than 300 Tri-Citians, said Kelly Cheeseman, spokeswoman for Amazon.

Nationwide, Amazon plans to add 7,000 positions, the company announced this week.

About 5,000 of the full-time jobs will be at fulfillment centers to help with picking, packing and shipping customer orders. The company says it employs about 20,000 warehouse workers.

The remaining 2,000 new full-time, part-time and seasonal positions, including those in Kennewick, will be customer-service jobs.

Kennewick is the only location in Washington where Amazon officials said jobs would be added.

The company said it was beefing up staff in 13 states all together. That includes some work-from-home positions in Washington, Oregon and Arizona.

In Kennewick, the new employees will take customer calls and conduct customer chat sessions, Cheeseman said.

The new positions may help offset some of the job losses experienced at Hanford, said Ajsa Suljic, regional labor economist for Benton and Franklin counties.

Professional and business services, which includes Amazon's call center employees and many Hanford workers, included about 20,900 workers as of June, she said.

That segment of the job market has taken a hit in the past year, dropping 1,000 jobs since June 2012, Suljic said.

When Amazon came to town eight years ago, Tri-City officials lauded the Seattle-based Internet giant's decision as a boon for the region's economic development and would help in the effort to diversify the economy beyond Hanford.

In a secrecy-shrouded process, the Seattle-based firm chose the former Walmart building at 7011 W. Canal Drive for a $1 million renovation.

The company converted a 54,000-square-foot portion of the building, according to building plans filed with the city of Kennewick. At the time, Amazon said it expected to employ up to 400 people there.

In general, Amazon officials said positions with the company pay 30 percent more than traditional retail jobs, and include benefits such as health care, 401(k) retirement accounts and company stock awards.

For more information about positions and to apply go to www.amazon.com/csjobs.

-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; kpihl@tricityherald.com

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