Amazon has unveiled its highly anticipated expansion plans in the Aloha State, with the online retail giant set to open a new three-story distribution facility on Auiki Street in Sand Island.
In 2020, the company acquired a 15-acre lot on Sand Island, a small island within the city of Honolulu, and now it’s ready to put it to good use.
According to Stephen Maduli-Williams, senior economic development manager at Amazon, the process will involve packages flying in and then getting trucked to the Sand Island facility overnight, with orders ready for delivery as early as 10 o’clock in the morning.
This expansion is part of Amazon’s efforts to improve its service in Hawaii. Currently, the company employs around 900 people across the state. With the new Sand Island facility set to open in April, Amazon will hire an additional 500 employees, further contributing to Hawaii’s job market.
Amazon Investment in Hawaii
Amazon has shown a significant commitment to Hawaii, with investments totaling $415 million. Of this, $200 million has been allocated to the Sand Island facility, while another $125 million has gone into a facility in Kapolei.
Company executives explained that this expansion won’t necessarily mean more bulky items will be shipped to the islands. Instead, the focus will be on providing a broader selection and faster delivery times for existing products.
Support for Local Businesses
Tina Yamaki, President of Retail Merchants of Hawaii, acknowledged local businesses are concerned about Amazon’s expansion plans but stressed that big and small businesses can coexist. Amazon has programs designed to support local retailers, making it possible for them to thrive alongside the ecommerce giant.
Jimmy Tokioka, Director at the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, emphasized the importance of a “buy local” message accompanying Amazon’s expansion. He believes that Amazon can become a part of the local community, but supporting local businesses remains a top priority.
“In Hawaii, we have 1,200 sellers today, but we feel there’s a lot more work that we can do here on the islands,” said Bobby Co, sales manager at Amazon, suggesting the company will be seeking to expand its local seller count.
Opportunities for Local Entrepreneurs
Amazon also plans to engage with local entrepreneurs by partnering with six to eight entrepreneurs who can deliver their products directly on the island. To facilitate this, the company will hold a sellers’ training event next month and hiring events early next year.
The Sand Island fulfillment center is expected to open its doors in April 2024.
With Amazon’s expansion into Hawaii, residents can look forward to quicker deliveries and more job opportunities, while local businesses will have the chance to collaborate with the ecommerce giant.
As the company becomes an integral part of the local community, the hope is that it will also contribute to the growth of Hawaii’s small businesses.
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