Hundreds brave mid-summer heat, long lines to apply for Amazon jobs in Jacksonville

The Legends Center on Soutel Drive in Jacksonville was the scene of long lines Monday as hundreds of people waited for hours to apply for positions with Amazon during a job fair. (Florida Times-Union/Drew Dixon)

Hundreds of potential workers for Amazon’s planned delivery center operations for Jacksonville finally got their chance Monday to apply for jobs with the company as they waited in line for hours at a Northside community center.


“So far, so good,” said Nick Moody as he was about to enter the interview phase of the application process about 11 a.m..

The 26-year-old Moody waited outside the Legends Center on Soutel Drive beginning at 8:30 a.m. Monday. The doors didn’t open until 10 a.m. but he said it was willing to wait as he’s looking for a career transition from his nursery technician’s job at a business he declined to name.

“It’s a good start and they [Amazon] do have a lot of technology jobs,” Moody said.

His wife, Jennifer Moody, was waiting with him and said when they arrived nearly two hours before the doors opened, there were already 50 people in line. By 11 a.m., that line had swelled to hundreds of people and the line snaked through the parking lot in the stifling Florida summer sun.

“It was really worth it getting here early,” Jennifer Moody said. “I’m looking for a full-time job. I work in an office but I never worked in a warehouse before.”

Warehouse jobs are among the many Amazon is offering at the planned “fulfillment” center currently under construction on Pecan Park Road.

In anticipation of filling at least 1,500 jobs, Amazon along with CareerSource of Northeast Florida coordinated a series of job fairs that include interviews and applications. The first in that series kicked off Monday at the Legends Center with another five events that run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and are slated for the Jacksonville area over the next two weeks including:

• Wednesday and Friday at Legends Center, 5130 Soutel Drive.

• Monday, July 17, Wednesday, July 19and Friday, July 21at Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center, 1000 Water St.

Candace Moody, vice president of communications for CareerSource, said there were so many people that turned out for Monday’s Amazon job fair that there was no way to get a final count on applicants Monday. But she said the turnout was among the best for any CareerSource event ever held.

“We know there are thousand of jobs being offered. People were really enthusiastic about showing up,” Moody said. “The fact that they were willing to stand for hours in the hot sun says something about the interest.”

Moody said CareerSource is accustomed to seeing huge crowds of applicants for job fairs that involve multiple companies at one time. But when it comes to a single company, the Amazon job fair Monday was in a class by itself.

“This is definitely not run of the mill. It’s obviously a special event for a company that’s never been here before,” Moody said. “For us, it was one of the biggest events we’ve seen for a single employer. For a single employer, this is an amazing turnout.”

Many applying for the jobs are seeking more than just a career transition. Alexei Marquez showed up to the job fair Monday just before 11 a.m. and was near the back of the line that would take him at least another hour just before he got inside the Legends Center air conditioned building.

Marquez said he immigrated to the United States from Cuba a year and a half ago and it’s been tough finding steady work. He said he hopes Amazon will give him a shot at the very basics of the American dream.

“I’m looking for a job. I’m trying to find work,” a frustrated Marquez said noting he’s submitted applications with Amazon on the internet but hasn’t had any success. “I’ve applied online and nobody’s called me back.”

Terrelle Mathis said he’s hoping for jump start to his career as his job as a cook at a Hardee’s restaurant has no benefits.

“They told me the requirements of the [Amazon] jobs require lifting. I’m good at lifting,” the 18-year-old Mathis said at the tail end of a three-hour wait in line. “It was hot out there, really hot. But I want to apply.”

The Pecan Park Amazon facility is expected to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. While the plant is under construction, no opening date has been given. Most of the jobs will pay $12 to $15 per hour with about 500 jobs paying $50,000 and above annually.

The company said that all are full-time jobs with benefits starting on the first day, including medical, dental and vision insurance as well as 401(k) and company stock awards. It also pre-pays up to 95 percent of tuition for courses related to in-demand fields, regardless of whether the skills are relevant to a career at Amazon.

Another Amazon center is going into Cecil Commerce Center on the Westside and will hire about 1,000 people, but no opening date has been given for that.

Permitting paperwork has indicated that Amazon has two more sites in development at at 4948 Bulls Bay Highway in the Westside Industrial Park and 11084 Cabot Commerce Circle in Alta Lakes Commerce Center of I-295 North. But the company has not confirmed those.

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