Amazon opened a new fulfillment center in Baltimore County’s Sparrows Point this week.
This is the ecommerce company’s second facility in the development at the former site of the Sparrows Point steel mill, now known as Tradepoint Atlantic. It follows an initial 855,000-square-foot distribution hub that opened in 2018. This new spot will employ over 500 full-time associates that work alongside technology to pick, pack and ship larger items to customers, according to a press release. Openings are still left to be filled, per the company.
Amazon now has four fulfillment centers in the state, including others at a former General Motors site along Broening Highway in Baltimore city and in Cecil County’s North East.
With the new center, government officials ranging from Governor Larry Hogan to Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski are excited by the expansion and continued revitalization of Sparrows Point, which was once home to the Bethlehem Steel blast furnace known as the “Beast of the East.”
“This investment is more important than ever as we continue on our road to economic recovery, and it is further proof that Maryland truly is open for business,” Hogan said in a statement.
The introduction of hundreds of new jobs comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has led to big spikes in unemployment in the metro area. After starting the year around 3.5%, the Baltimore county unemployment rate was 8.3% as of June 2020, according to the latest stats available from the Maryland Department of Labor. That was a 1.8-percentage-point improvement over May’s total, and state data shows over 6,500 jobs gained in that one-month span. Baltimore city’s unemployment rate also dropped by over one percentage point from May to June, to 10%, but is still in double digits. That means over 28,000 people are unemployed, per state data.
The hope is that the job gains at Tradepoint Atlantic can help the county and bleed into Baltimore city, so that a rising tide raises all ships.
“In these challenging times, we are especially excited to see Amazon doubling-down on Baltimore County — bringing even more employment opportunities for working families across our region,” Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski said in a statement.
Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.