Portman emphasized that “several hundred” jobs is his expectation, based on his understanding of the work Amazon plans to place in the air park. He said he could not characterize the expected number of jobs any more precisely.
“It’s a significant commitment,” the senator said. “I think it has a good possibility of growing — because the infrastructure is there.”
The Republican senator also expects about 250 to 350 temporary construction jobs to be associated with the project. Old equipment once used for a former DHL hub at the park is being removed to make way for Amazon.
“I knew it back in the old days with DHL,” Portman said of the operation’s planned location, which will be fitted into an existing building at the airport. “I also knew it when it was an empty building.”
DHL had a major hub at Wilmington Air Park, until the company closed that operation in 2008, killing some 8,000 jobs in and around Wilmington.
He expects Amazon to begin hiring for the new full-time, permanent jobs in the first quarter or early second quarter of 2019.
“As you know, Amazon pays $15 an hour minimum,” Portman said. “But they’ll also have a lot of software engineers and maintenance people, technicians, who are making a lot more than that. These will be welcome jobs in the community.”
Amazon said earlier this month that the operation in Wilmington will be an “air gateway.” The e-retailer leases space at airports for the loading and unloading of customer packages to and from aircraft, from trucks that drop off and pick up packages, and an on-site area for sorting packages based on their next destination. The company calls those operations “air gateways.”