Amazon celebrated the soft launch opening of the new Robotics Fulfilment Center in Davenport Wednesday, Oct. 25, and plans to expand its workforce to 1,000 employees by March 2024.

Amazon general manager Nate Rudy welcomed local officials with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a sneak peek of the first Quad Cities-area Amazon facility, at 20710 155th Ave., Davenport. Known internally as MLI1, the facility is named for the closest airport, the plant will have 500 employees by the end of this month, with starting wages of $17.50 an hour.

Amazon celebrated its opening with the city and QC Chamber officials on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023.

“We are very excited to be here and to be a great partner in the community,” Rudy said in a company release. “Ten days ago, we welcomed our first group of new hires and we’ll welcome over 500 new hires before the end of October.”

After breaking ground a little over two years ago, their leadership and support teams started working on-site in September and have received a warm welcome from the community, according to Rudy.

The facility (just west of the Davenport Municipal Airport) is the latest generation of Amazon fulfillment centers covering over 2.3 million square feet on six floors with over 12 miles of conveyance.

The 2.3 million-square-foot fulfillment center is in northwest Davenport near the municipal airport.

For the remainder of 2023 leading into Amazon’s peak sales period, the QC location will operate as a cross dock facility, where new products are received from vendors and then sent to other Amazon facilities to pick, pack and ship items to customers. This is the second time Amazon has chosen to launch a fulfillment facility first as a cross dock.

In the first quarter of 2024, Amazon plans to fully launch and celebrate the grand opening of the facility as the 105th Amazon robotics fulfillment center, Rudy said in the release. Next year, Amazon will grow to over 1,000 employees.

Davenport Mayor Mike Matson thanked all the public and private partners who helped make this project happen.

“Economic development in our region is possible because of the fantastic partnerships we have forged throughout the community,” he said.

“Here we are standing in a facility, a world-renowned business, that is bringing jobs to the Quad Cities,” said Matson. When fully operational, Amazon will become one of the QC region’s top employers.

 “This is really an exciting day for our entire community and I’m thrilled to welcome another Fortune 100 company to this community — an iconic brand that does incredible things beyond just creating jobs,” said Mara Downing, Vice President of Global Branding & Communications at John Deere and board chair for the Quad Cities Chamber. “I hope that you enjoy the Quad Cities as much as John Deere has over the past 175 years.”

Rudy shared the compensation packages for their frontline employees not only include pay starting at $17.50 per hour, but also provide comprehensive benefits for full-time employees including health, vision and dental insurance from their first day. In addition, Amazon offers vacation time and paid time off, a 401K with a company match, 20 weeks of paid leave for new parents and prepaid college tuition.

Amazon is running day and night shifts, a total of six schedules of mostly 10-hour shifts, the release said.

Amazon assistant general manager Kyle Stratford explained that when Amazon fully launches next year, it will be a fulfillment center, or the first stop where the product goes after it comes from a cross dock.

The QC facility will unbox product, if needed, when it arrives and then send it to the storage area on the top four floors of the building. Once it’s stowed and scanned, their website knows the product is now available and ready to be shipped.

The fulfillment center will have 500 employees by the end of this month and grow to 1,000 by March 2024.

From here, the items will be shipped to a sort center which sorts the product into zip codes to prepare for delivery. Lastly, the product is sent to a delivery station for delivery to the customer.

Next year, the QC facility is going to be one of the second sites ever to launch a mini delivery station inside this facility, said Stratford. Currently the closest delivery station is Iowa City. Quad Citizens can anticipate seeing more blue delivery vans, or local delivery, in the area next year.

While giving a tour of the site, Stratford pointed out, “One really cool thing is that all our official vests say ‘Better Together’ on them, which is our motto for the site, kind of an ode to not only teamwork being the most efficient way to go about things, but also the Quad Cities themselves being better as the Quad Cities and not as individual cities.”

Volunteering is important to this local team according to Rudy, which has already given 3,500 hours of volunteered time across 74 events with 30 different organizations in the QC, making it the 2nd highest across Amazon in the U.S.

There will be a grand opening ceremony with other local policy makers/officials and community partners in early 2024.