Amazon’s million square foot distribution center at the former Norton Air Force Base in San Bernardino is open for business. A grand opening ceremony is scheduled for Thursday, a couple of weeks ahead of schedule.
It’s welcome news in a city weathering a financial meltdown.
San Bernardino filed for emergency bankruptcy protection two months ago. Plummeting property and sales tax revenues hastened the city's financial troubles, and an unemployment rate of about 14-percent made it worse.
At the Amazon fulfillment center, employees will pick, pack and ship merchandise to Amazon customers across the U.S.
San Bernardino Mayor Pat Morris says the giant warehouse is the kind of project the city needs.
“It will employ year-round at least 1,000 people and seasonally may employ an additional 1,000. So we’re building up those numbers," Morris said. "We’ve got a new Hewlett-Packard facility, close to a million square feet, a big regional center for FedEx, so we’re trying to get jobs and it’s basically around the world of goods movement.”
City officials had said they were willing to consider a sales tax revenue sharing deal with the company. San Bernardino has a similar deal with the department store chain Kohl’s. But the Amazon deal has been tabled in the wake of San Bernardino’s fiscal crisis.