As Amazon nears its opening date, small businesses get a boost - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

As Amazon nears its opening date, small businesses getting a boost

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By Jack Kuenzie - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The enormous building soon to be home to Amazon in Lexington County is not ready to do business just yet, but it is getting closer to completion every day. When Amazon is up and running, hundreds of new employees get a boost for their bottom lines. So could many of our area's small businesses.

Like many other owners of small businesses in the Midlands, Debbie Thomas has worked hard to overcome a down economy. So she couldn't be more excited by the prospect of developing a relationship with Amazon.

"It would be a fantastic challenge to look forward to," said Thomas. "And I use the word 'challenge' because in printing, you do have different obstacles come your way. But yet you're here to solve them. So I would love to be a problem solver for them."

Thomas and her Lexington printing franchise Minuteman Press represent one of more than a hundred businesses pitching products and services to the online giant this week.

"The goal is to integrate Amazon into the community, and that's one of their objectives is to make certain that they are part of the fabric of this community," said Lexington County Economic Development Director Chuck Whipple. "And we thought the best way to do that is to introduce them to all the businesses that operate here in the Midlands."

Of course, Amazon is creating jobs with its own hiring and the whirlwind of construction activity still underway in the Saxe Gotha Industrial Park. "They've hired a little more than 400 people right now. And most of those are locals," said Lexington County Councilman Bill Banning. "The nice thing is we know the manager is a local manager who came from our county. So I'm assuming most of those hires are probably local folks here."

"I'm a firm believer in Amazon coming to this area, and I stood there on the state grounds and rooted and I developed that logo," said Thomas. "So now I'm hoping that they'll help me a little bit by giving me a little bit of some copying just because I'm a local small business."

Amazon intends to have about 2,000 full-time and temporary employees on board by the end of the year. More than 9,000 applications have been submitted so far. Banning says the company plans to open its doors October 5.

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