Employee at the Fall River fulfillment center

The Amazon effect: What a fulfillment center means to its community

From Southern California to Chattanooga, Tennessee, Amazon is directly—and indirectly—helping local economies thrive.
December 18, 2018
From Southern California to Chattanooga, Tennessee, Amazon is directly—and indirectly—helping local economies thrive.
When you think of Amazon, Seattle may come to mind. When you visualize an Amazon customer, you likely envision a shopper clicking “add to cart.” While both of these mental pictures are accurate, Amazon and its customers extend far beyond those conceits.

Though headquartered in Seattle, Amazon is actually a local employer that directly and indirectly contributes to local economies. Its customers are not just Amazon.com shoppers, they’re also in the communities where Amazon operates buildings, where people are employed, and where the company contributes to the greater economy.

Since 2011, Amazon has invested more than $160 billion in the U.S. from fulfillment centers, to cloud computing infrastructure, to compensation to its employees. These investments have contributed an additional $100 billion into the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) due to the ripple effect into the economy.

As of 2017, Amazon’s investments led to the creation of more than 360,000 additional (non-Amazon) jobs, including construction jobs as well as tens of thousands of positions in the healthcare industry and in professional services firms, among others.

In communities across the country, small businesses are thriving thanks to Amazon’s investments, partnerships, and patronage. Look no further than Goodyear, Arizona, where Jessie Martinez and Tricia Beliso once delivered 7,000 bagels to Amazon associates, or to Chattanooga, Tennessee, where a partnership with Amazon has allowed Jacob D’Angelo to expand his food truck to a brick-and-mortar restaurant.

The “Amazon effect” can also be seen throughout the Inland Empire, a 27,000 square-mile region of Southern California that stretches across San Bernardino and Riverside counties east of Los Angeles and home to 4.5 million people. An in-depth look at the economic impact here sheds light on the specific ways Amazon is creating jobs while supporting and investing in communities across the U.S.

Here’s a by-the-numbers snapshot of how Amazon has bolstered the Inland Empire’s growth:
  • 14
    In 2012, Amazon opened its doors in California with a fulfillment center in San Bernardino. Because of the success seen there, the company launched additional facilities across the region, including Eastvale, Moreno Valley, Redlands, Rialto, and Riverside. Amazon currently operates 14 fulfillment facilities and other large-scale operations within the Inland Empire.
  • $2.7 billion
    Between 2012 and 2016, Amazon invested $2 billion in facility costs, utilities, security, supplies and other operating expenses in this area. In turn, nearby small businesses such as local caterers, cleaners, hair salons, eateries, grocery stores, and industrial supply firms experienced marked increases in business. According to John Husing, Ph.D., chief economist for the Inland Empire Economic Partnership, Amazon’s investment generated a secondary impact of $2.7 billion. Combined, this twofold effect means that Amazon had a $4.7 billion economic impact on the Inland Empire from 2012 to 2016, with $1.95 billion generated in 2016 alone.
  • 18,000
    The Inland Empire initially had 2,700 Amazon employees. By 2018, that number had grown to 18,000.
  • 34,600
    Using methodology developed by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Amazon estimates that in addition to the 18,000 fulfillment associates, the company’s investment in this region has helped create an additional 34,600 jobs at area businesses.
  • 14%
    In 2011, the number of business establishments in the area totaled 101,000. By 2016, that number had jumped to 115,000, an increase of 14%.
  • 7%
    During this same time period, the unemployment rate in the Inland Empire dropped by more than 7%. (Across the country over the past five years, counties that receive Amazon investments report an average 4.8% drop in unemployment.)
  • 28%
    The sales tax collected by counties increased by 28%, going from $3.5 billion in 2011 to $4.5 billion in 2015. This revenue went toward essential services such as police and fire departments, public libraries, and local parks.
  • $1.5 million
    Committed to giving back to the communities it serves, Amazon has donated more than $1.5 million to charities in California through monetary and in-kind donations. As part of the company’s efforts to invest in school robotics and STEM programs, libraries, and after-school programs supporting families, Amazon contributes to the Corona High School STEM and Robotics program, the Cajon High School Logistics program, Feeding America of San Bernardino, the San Bernardino Library Foundation, San Bernardino Parks and Recreation, the Boys and Girls Club, and the Inland Empire Children’s Book Project, among other groups in the Inland Empire.
  • $50,000
    In Southern California—and in every area of the country that’s home to a fulfillment center—Amazon reaches out to local businesses that may be able to support the facility’s needs, whether that’s purchasing supplies from local vendors or bringing in nearby caterers for employee appreciation meals. The Ventura Handyman, for example, has benefitted greatly from Amazon’s patronage, completing more than $50,000 in painting, cabinetry, and other contract work for the local fulfillment center last year.
The type of impact felt throughout the Inland Empire is mirrored in towns and cities across the U.S., where Amazon’s investments are having direct and indirect effects on local economies and communities. For facts and figures relating to the “Amazon effect” in your home state, reference this map.
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