Amazon rises: Large warehouse for retail giant starts to take shape along I-84

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Amazon reshaped the retail landscape over the last 20 years.

Now, it’s reshaping the literal landscape in Nampa.

What it once called “Project Bronco,” Amazon now officially calls a fulfillment center. The center, along I-84 near the Sorrento Lactalis cheese factory and Idaho Center Auto Mall, will take up nearly 650,000 square feet of space.

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Inside, nearly 1,000 workers will scurry about fulfilling orders for delivery across the area.

In recent days, crews worked to move an enormous mound of earth that now towers above the surrounding ground, visible from the freeway. Crews also framed out the first wall of the Amazon Nampa fulfillment building in steel.

Amazon Nampa and the Boise-area workforce

The company may also reshape something else locally: the workforce. Unemployment in the Boise area sits below 3% – well below the national average. Amazon promises it will pay each of the 1,000 workers at least $15 per hour, more than double Idaho’s $7.25 minimum wage.

The influx of jobs could put pressure on scores of lower-paying employers to raise wages to keep pace. On an annualized basis, an Amazon worker will make $31,200, while minimum wage brings a full-time worker to just $15,080.

Amazon Nampa will also provide medical, vision, dental and 401k benefits – plus up to 20 weeks of maternity and paternity leave.

Amazon Boise
Amazon Prime vehicles sit at the Boise Factory Outlet. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev

Despite the above-average wages, work inside an Amazon warehouse continues to attract intense scrutiny. A long piece in the New York Times last summer dug into working conditions: long hours, exhausting work, algorithm-driven productivity quotas – even pressure from robots.

Separately, Amazon started work on a distribution center in Boise near Gowen Rd. Dozens of Amazon Prime vehicles currently use the largely-empty Boise Factory Outlet Mall parking lot as a temporary staging site.

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