TROUTDALE, Oregon — The amazon robotics fulfillment center in Troutdale is coming up on its one-year mark.
Local businesses say it's been a boon to the town and it's giving people in the state the opportunity to work for a tech giant.
On Friday, KGW took a tour of the center to see how your orders get to you.
With the click of your mouse, you send all of it into action. The more than 2,000 full-time employees at the facility in the Gateway to the Gorge pick, pack and ship to customers locally, regionally and around the country.
Amazon employees are working alongside robots and the company says the technology at the facility complements what people can do. The facility's general manager said human beings are still more precise and accurate, and implementing both in harmony makes fulfilling orders much more efficient.
"This is a people-driven business and we complement that through technology of robotics,” said Amazon robotics fulfillment center general manager Mike Moore.
The mega-retail giant's $15 minimum wage, solid benefits and career choice program are appealing to many, but the company has been under fire the past couple years.
Fulfillment center employees across the country are protesting poor and demanding conditions. They say productivity expectations are intense and exhausting, and employees are treated as just a number.
KGW asked Moore his take on that, and what he's doing to make the Troutdale center a better place to work.
“Everything I do in this building is driven to give a better associate experience. So, yes, we've seen some things across the nation but we really encourage that First Amendment right. But it's been business as usual here at this building. we have wonderful associates that are very customer-centric and customer-focused and they deliver every day,” Moore told KGW.
This building is one local business owners feel is bringing more good than bad.
"That area where the Reynolds Aluminum Plant was and it has been sitting for years with nothing there. It was just an awful piece of dirt. For them to come in and add to community was a good thing,” Troutdale General Store owner Terry Smoke said.
Still, Smoke does worry a bit about Amazon's impact on mom and pop shops.
"Of course you always think about when you're in retail: what's Amazon going to do for retail? But it’s the future, we get it," Smoke said.
Business owners KGW spoke with Friday said the tech giant is bringing more people and business to the community. They’ve seen the town change quite a bit over the decades while they’ve owned their businesses, but they said the evolution is for the better and Amazon is contributing to that.
Smoke said all the employees at the facility have put more cars on the road and increased traffic, but not necessarily in a harmful way.
“Used to be that Troutdale at five o’clock in the afternoon, you could roll a bowling ball down the street and you wouldn’t hit a thing. Now, the town is booming until midnight,” he said.
West Columbia Chamber of Commerce President Geoffrey Kenway said Amazon is now showing they want to be in, a part of and for the community. The company sponsored the town's big summer festival in town and had a booth promoting employment opportunities.
“I would say they're going to make a big impact as far as jobs are concerned and being part of the community, not just a big company here. Which I think is important,” Kenway said.
Ristorante di Pompello owner Saul Pompello has been hired to cater Amazon lunches one to two times a week. He's a fan of the facility, but he originally took issue that the city, county and state governments didn’t charge the tech company enough to build the facility.
Employees not only shop in Troutdale, but Kenway says many of them live in Troutdale. He believes the huge tax incentives Amazon gets from the state will have long-term benefits in the Gateway to the Gorge.
Amazon's footprint in Oregon has expanded significantly over the last couple years. It now owns 19 facilities and stores in the state, including four fulfillment centers, and has created more than 3,500 full-time jobs so far.