New Amazon warehouses expected to boost Berks economy

Stacy Wescoe//August 12, 2020

New Amazon warehouses expected to boost Berks economy

Stacy Wescoe//August 12, 2020

An Amazon employee picking merchandise at an existing distribution center. Photo/amazon.com –


Amazon will bring not one, but two, fulfillment centers to Berks County, adding about 1.6 million square feet of logistics space and likely hiring more than 1,000 workers, according to Berks County economic development officials.

Pamela Shupp, vice president of external affairs for the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance, said fit out work is underway on the two facilities.

The first is in the 78 Trade Center off of Route 78 in Upper Bern Township. Amazon is moving into a 1 million-square-foot spec building and will be the first tenant of that building. In Muhlenberg Township, Amazon is taking over a 600,000-square-foot facility off of Route 61, behind Met Ed.

Shupp said Amazon has not disclosed the type of merchandise it will house at the two sites, but noted that neither are cold storage buildings, ruling out produce or other perishables.

The number of jobs created has not been determined.

“At one point they were talking about close to 2,500,” Shupp said. “Now they’re throwing out the 1,000 person range.”

Whatever the number, the jobs will start workers start at $15 per hour and with benefits for full-time workers, she said. Because of the boom in logistics activity in the region, employers like Amazon are offering higher, more competitive salaries to attract workers.

Still, Shupp said, with the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment has been high in many industries so bringing family-sustaining jobs to the region is good news, even if it might mean a career change to logistics from other industries such as hospitality, which has been hard hit.

“We also expect a spin-off effect on the local business community,” she said.

People coming to and from the facility will need stop for food, gas, maybe get their car repaired and that will boost the overall economy. Shupp noted that Muhlenberg Township, in particular, has very strong retail, which will likely attract the new employees.

The warehouses proximity to Reading should also make it an attractive workplace for people living in the city, boosting employment there.

No opening date is set for either facility.

Workers are still installing a racking and conveyer systems that will be needed to get the facilities operational. Shupp estimated the facilities should be up and running by the end of the year.