Amazon processing center opens for business - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Amazon processing center opens for business

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If you've ever used, then you know the website just about has it all. You can order a water hose, an NFL huddler, or just about anything else in between.

It's kind of like a yard sale of new and used things, and Amazon is the middle man. Someone mails in things they want to sell, and Amazon stores and sells it. It passes through a lot of hands in the process, but those hands belong to plenty of locals.

The Fortune 500 company opened the doors of its new Midlands processing to the media for the first time on Tuesday.

John Petta is one of the thousand-plus people who got the chance to work at the plant.

"I'm very pleasantly surprised by our workforce," Petta, a supervisor, said. "They're so dedicated. They really have pride in the work."

Petta took the job to oversee the center after leaving another local plant. If you ask state Sen. Nikki Setzler, who helped recruit the plant, that was the point.

"Jobs. I think it was about jobs, with healthcare benefits in a time where we were in a recession," Setzler said.

The workers receive a wide array of things people are selling, pack them up, and send them off to someone new. Hundreds work the floors at a given hour.

"I was on the riverwalk, walking one Sunday afternoon with my grandsons, two people walk up, husband and wife and say, 'Thank you.'  I said, 'For what?.' They said, 'Because we go to work at Amazon on Friday morning,'" Setzler said.

And no doubt that couple and their co-workers had a lot of ground to cover. Employees even have to ride bikes from one spot to another. Plant employees boast that the center is 28 football fields of operating space.

If you're good at math, then you realize that's every single SEC and ACC football field under the plant's roof.

That means there is room for the company to grow, and if people keep selling their stuff, the people who purchase it won't be the only ones getting something out of the deal.

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