CLAY — Reports of a planned distribution center with 1,000 positions may come as welcome news for Jefferson County, but particular benefits for the area remain unclear.
According to a recent report from the Post-Standard, Trammell Crow Co. plans to build the 3.8 million-square-foot facility on 111 acres of land on Morgan Road in the town of Clay, Onondaga County, for an unspecified e-commerce or retail company. Some experts believe the company operating the warehouse, which would be the second-largest in the world behind the 4.3 million-square-foot Boeing factory warehouse in Everett, Wash., could be Amazon, according to the report.
Trammell Crow, Dallas, the Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency and Onondaga County Executive J.Ryan McMahon II did not return requests for comment.
Most workers would receive an annual salary of $30,000, according to the report, or about $14.50 per hour. Wages for warehouse workers, who move and receive materials, in New York range from $29,571 to $39,513, according to salary.com, but other warehouse positions typically offer different salaries. Amazon has advertised for warehouse worker positions that pay between $15 and $16.50 an hour, or between $31,200 and $34,320 annually, but didn’t disclose payment in its advertisements for leadership roles.
Donald C. Alexander, CEO of the Jefferson County Local Development Corp., said the prospective operation could yield employment opportunities for residents in southern Jefferson County, in particular. While Mr. Alexander said he wished they offered a higher salary for most positions, the positions may serve well as entry-level jobs. Should the unidentified company ship products to Canada, it could benefit the Thousand Islands International Bridge system with additional toll revenue from delivery truck operators, he said.
“It’s not perfect, I wish (the salary) was a lot more, but it’s better than a sharp stick in the eye,” he said.
The proposed location for the distribution center lies about an hour and 15 minutes from Watertown, about an hour from Adams, about an-hour-and-a-half from Lowville, and about half an hour from Oswego.
Cheryl A. Mayforth, director of the Jefferson County Department of Employment and Training at the Workplace, said whether Jefferson or Lewis County residents seek positions at the distribution center depends on various factors. They would have to evaluate whether the wages are worth the drive, particularly through winter, she said.
“Wages are extremely important. You don’t want to be spending every nickel and dime on the commute,” she said.
Unemployment rates for Jefferson and Lewis counties are also low, meaning fewer workers are available to attract, Mrs. Mayforth said, although she added that the labor market can fluctuate. The unemployment rate last month was 4.7 percent in Jefferson County, 4.2 percent in Lewis County, 5.1 percent in Oswego County and 3.8 percent in Onondaga County, according to the state Department of Labor.
Residents from the southern portions of Jefferson and Lewis counties may pursue jobs with the proposed warehousing operation, although Mrs. Mayforth said her agency prefers to retain local workers for the local labor markets. The Workplace will host a job fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 9 at the Hilton Garden Inn.
The company may cause north country residents to relocate, but whether that happens remains uncertain.
“We all need to stay tuned and see what this is going to be,” Mrs. Mayforth said.