Timelines, construction work, hiring: What to know about Amazon coming to Bath in 2022

Amazon distribution center could hire between 200 and 250 workers, with additional "gig" employees during holiday season

Chris Potter
The Evening Tribune

BATH — Traffic on State Route 54 in Bath is going to boom in 2022.

With two major employers preparing to set up shop in the Steuben County township this year, traffic counts on Route 54 are expected to increase significantly as Amazon and LP Building Solutions launch construction work in the coming months.

Amazon had hoped to have a distribution center open at the former Mercury Aircraft building last fall, but the state Department of Transportation requested the addition of a left turning lane onto Industrial Park Road to handle the surge in traffic.

The Steuben County Industrial Development Agency is leading the effort to facilitate the project. The IDA expects to award a bid for construction management services in the coming days, said Executive Director Jamie Johnson. The bid for the road work will follow in short order. Motorists will see crews on the ground during construction season, with the new lane expected to be in place by the end of October, at the latest.

“The investment we’re making in the turning lane would support all of the potential investment that’s going to come with a potential distribution center of Amazon’s size, and also with the LP project,” said Johnson.

Industrial Park Road is the sole route to the 77,000 square foot building. The IDA previously earmarked $100,000 to support improvements to the intersection with Route 54. The total cost of the road work is expected to be offset by a contribution from the developer. Amazon has not sought financial assistance from the IDA.

Johnson expects work to pick up in the spring when the weather breaks, with Amazon likely opening the operation later this year in time for the 2022 holiday shopping season.

“The vast majority of work that needs to get done is external work that is weather sensitive,” said Johnson. “Initially they had hoped their project could get underway last year but it didn’t happen for a variety of reasons. I believe as their process works out with Mercury Aircraft, the building owner, you’ll see a lot of activity on the construction side this summer once the weather breaks."

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Amazon, LP projects bringing jobs to Steuben County

The Amazon distribution center is expected to add a significant number of jobs to the Steuben County economy. An official number has yet to be released, although Bath town supervisor Ron Smith said last year that the site could potentially hire 200-250.

Johnson said early conversations with Amazon indicated the Bath facility would employ a mix of warehouse employees, third-party truck drivers, and additional “gig employees” hired seasonally for warehouse and delivery work during busy periods of the year.

“I think you’re going to see a fairly significant range of employment options and salary levels,” said Johnson.

Amazon is currently hiring for one position in Bath, an On the Road Operations Team Lead. The company previously listed a pair of IT positions in 2021.

Amazon instituted a $15 minimum wage in 2018, and in September 2021, Reuters reported that the company has increased its average starting wage in the U.S. to more than $18 an hour amid a tight labor market and plans for aggressive hiring.

Because Amazon is not seeking financial assistance from the IDA, precise employment levels and pay rates in Bath are unknown. The IDA did perform a cost-benefit analysis on the LP Building Solutions incentives package. In December, the Nashville-based company committed to a $24 million investment that will bring about 60 jobs to a new engineered wood siding pre-finishing facility. Those positions will mostly range in salary from $48,000-$54,000, with a floor of $45,000.

Johnson said LP expects to start hiring its Bath management team in the third quarter of 2022, with additional hiring in 2023. The site sits on 75 acres at the IDA’s Business Park located off State Route 54, a short distance from the Amazon project. Construction is expected to get underway this spring as soon as the site plan review process is complete, with the build likely taking 12-18 months. The facility is expected to be in operation by the third quarter of 2023.

Johnson said LP is building the Bath facility with future expansion in mind. The footprint could eventually grow to 300,000 square feet.

“This is not a one-and-done deal. If their sales go like they expect them to go, you’ll definitely see future growth at that facility and future job impacts for the Bath community,” said Johnson.

Based on initial discussions with LP and the Steuben County Department of Public Works, improvements to County Route 113 and Route 54 will not be needed to accommodate the project.

“It’s going to be a busy year here on Route 54 in Bath,” said Johnson.

Chris Potter can be reached at cpotter@gannett.com or on Twitter @ChrisPotter413. To get unlimited access to the latest news, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.