Republic, Springfield officials looking forward to economic impact of new Amazon facilities

Published: Feb. 10, 2021 at 6:13 PM CST
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The world’s largest internet revenue company continues to increase its footprint in the Ozarks.

Amazon’s recent announcement of putting big-box delivery centers in Springfield and Joplin comes as its giant distribution center in Republic is progressing as scheduled.

All of this sudden growth is leaving local officials excited about the arrival of a company that has already invested $780 million dollars in Missouri’s infrastructure and jobs (including 4,500 jobs) in the St. Louis and Kansas City areas.

“The people we’ve dealt with from the contractors to the Amazon people have been first class all the way,” said Republic City Administrator David Cameron. “And they work quick.”

For instance over the weekend Cameron said he was amazed to see it take just four hours for a helicopter to move 62 rooftop HVAC units from the ground to the top of the warehouse.

“There’s new construction techniques that I’ve never seen in my career that they’re doing on that site,” Cameron said as he pointed to some exterior concrete walls in a photo of the warehouse. “When they’re pouring walls, there are poles holding that up. So they’re actually pouring and then lifting those walls up. They do it all in one big push.”

Known as “fulfillment centers”, the 110 Amazon warehouses located across the U.S. are modern marvels of technology and the pace of their Republic construction has been just as impressive.

The deal between Amazon and the city of Republic was negotiated in June, dirt started turning in September, and now the exterior is almost done to the 1.3 million square-foot facility that covers almost 30 acres.

It is scheduled to be completed by the end of August and open by the holidays.

“The warehouse in Republic is part of their larger distribution network,” explained Ryan Mooney, Senior Vice-President of Economic Development for the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce. “So they receive items from the manufacturer and then when they’re ordered by a customer, the item will ship through the network until it gets to a ‘last-mile’ facility that delivers it to the person who ordered it.”

As part of that large network of support, Amazon recently announced a pair of “last mile” facilities would be coming to Joplin and Springfield. They are delivery stations that handle large, big ticket items like TV’s and couches.

The one in north Springfield will be at the site of the old Coca-Cola bottling warehouse and employ hundreds of part-time workers when it opens in March.

“This is the type of facility as well for contractors such as Uber or Lyft drivers or anybody who signs up to be a part of Amazon’s program,” Mooney pointed out. “Eventually what they’d like to do is have those folks be able to come to the facility and pick up packages and be able to deliver.”

The economic impact also extends to ancillary businesses like construction.

“Springfield is one of the fastest growing markets in the country for construction jobs,” Mooney said. “And then ultimately when they’re done and the facility’s up and running, there’s a lot of people who are going to go to work there every day.”

Plans are for at least 500 new jobs at the Republic location and that means more businesses in-and-around the warehouse.

“We’re currently working on a commercial development right across from the Amazon site,” Cameron said. “We’re in discussions about fast food, truck stops, convenience stores, some retail and multi-family usage.”

Cameron said nothing is final yet though because everyone is waiting to see the improvements done by MoDOT to Highway MM that runs along the edge of the warehouse. The plan that Amazon has also been involved with includes the installation of three much-needed traffic signals and an extra lane.

“That should be started soon because Amazon requires that it be done before they open,” Cameron said. “It’s already a kind of dangerous intersection even before you add 4-5,000 cars a day with the Amazon site. So the improvements we’re going to be making will actually improve safety.”

One thing is for sure...the addition of Amazon as well as a number of other facilities in Republic (like a large Convoy of Hope warehouse) will be changing the landscape of Greene County’s second-largest community and causing an explosion of growth.

The question is, five years from now will someone whose been gone from the once small town even recognize Republic?

“No,” Cameron replied. “You won’t recognize it in 18 months. It will be that different.”

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