Online retail giant Amazon will build a worldwide air cargo hub at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.
Online retail giant Amazon will call the region home for its worldwide cargo hub, kicking off plans Tuesday for the largest ever investment by a company at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.
Seattle-based Amazon has committed to invest $1.49 billion and bring nearly 3,000 new jobs to the region. The deal would top Delta Air Lines’ $379 million hub expansion at CVG in 1993 if Amazon follows through on its commitment. It’s also the largest one-time business deal ever executed in Northern Kentucky, said Dan Tobergte, president of the Northern Kentucky Economic Development Corp.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime deal,” airport CEO Candace McGraw said. “It’s truly transformational.”
CVG beat out the Wilmington Air Park for Amazon, prompting Ohio Speaker of the House Cliff Rosenberger, R-Clarksville, to say he’s “disappointed” the company chose Northern Kentucky over his home region. CVG also beat out Wilmington for international shipping giant DHL’s North American hub several years ago.
Amazon raised hopes in Wilmington in 2015 when the online retailer started a pilot program to test whether that would make a good location for a hub, said Clinton County Port Authority Executive Director Dan Evers. Though Amazon never promised to locate there, Evers remained optimistic.
“Obviously this is disappointing and we will be working with local officials to help respond to any workers who may be impacted,” said Emmalee Kalmbach, a spokeswoman for Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Amazon has not yet set a date for its CVG groundbreaking, nor has the company set a timetable for adding the jobs. Amazon’s air cargo carrier, Amazon Prime Air, plans to start operating some flights at CVG in April.
Amazon began inquiring about CVG two months ago, local officials said, and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin played a key role in the deal by sitting in meetings with Amazon officials to craft a state incentive package.
In the end, the state, Boone County and airport moved quickly to lock in Amazon, which will receive a $40 million state and local tax incentive and another $5 million from CVG. For its part, Amazon has promised 2,700 new jobs, 600 of which will be full-time. It has entered a lease of at least 50 years with CVG, where Amazon plans to build a hub every bit as impressive as DHL’s massive North American hub here.
The jobs will pay an average hourly wage of $26 with benefits, state officials said.
“The governor has been very engaged with this project – as engaged as any governor I’ve ever seen with a project,” Boone County Judge-executive Gary Moore said.
Bevin’s involvement indicates he’s interested in helping Northern Kentucky, which doesn’t often get a lot of love from Frankfort. Bevin has made a pledge to the region to support road and other infrastructure improvements to make way for the hundreds of workers, Tobergte said. The Republican governor is said to be close with President Donald Trump, and the two have talked about what it’ll take to get the Brent Spence Bridge project done.
Whatever the reason for Amazon’s decision, a long line of Kentucky’s leaders from U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell on down lined up to take credit. A press release from Bevin’s office quoted 13 people.
Amazon will build several facilities on nearly 920 acres of CVG land, including a 3 million-square-foot sorting facility and a 350,000 square-foot loading dock. It also plans to build enough ramp space to house 100 cargo jets, more than what DHL has. Amazon already has a sorting facility near CVG, but airport officials weren’t certain whether work there will complement efforts on the airport grounds.
The deal further establishes CVG as a major air cargo hub. DHL’s growth has established CVG as the eighth-largest air cargo hub for volume in North America, McGraw said. She did not know whether Amazon’s arrival will bump up CVG in those rankings, but she did say more cargo coming through the airport can help grow passengers airlines. CVG’s landing fees are based on landed weight. So the more costs a cargo carrier can cover, the more appealing the airport can be to passengers carriers such as Southwest Airlines and Frontier Airlines.
The Amazon announcement completed a huge month for CVG, certainly its biggest since Kenton County Judge-executive Kris Knochelmann was elected in 2014 and began overhauling an airport board once hampered by backroom deal-making and good-old-boy politics.
The airport announced in early January it had landed long-coveted low-cost carrier Southwest, which begins nonstop flights to Chicago and Baltimore in June. Earlier Tuesday, discount carrier Frontier Airlines announced another expansion by adding nonstop flights to three cities, including New York.