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Oklahomans Play Key Roles in Amazon Growth

Article by David Dishman for The Oklahoman

While reading the newspaper on her phone earlier this year, Erica Stone learned that Amazon sought to hire local entrepreneurs to run logistics businesses.

She was interested, and Amazon delivered.

Stone and her family now own Straightaway Delivery, a company built to work alongside Amazon as the retail giant expands its presence in the Oklahoma City metro area, opening a delivery center in northeast Oklahoma City and breaking ground on a massive fulfillment center near the Will Rogers Airport, set to be completed in 2019.

The growth is designed to push faster and more efficient delivery. Same-day delivery will be available within a 40-mile radius from the delivery center as early as January, according to Kevin Connelly, logistics director of Amazon’s North America operations, and some products are already being shipped on a next-day basis.

Amazon spokesman Ernesto Apreza said the same-day delivery will depend on when the fulfillment center opens. Apreza said the fulfillment center would open in 2019, but did not give a specific date.

To improve the delivery speed, Amazon is using new partnerships with Straightaway Delivery and another partnership with Crimson Transport as anchor legs in the delivery sprint.

“One of the really cool things about it is ‘the last mile,’” Stone said. “When you order something on Amazon, you don’t interface with someone like you do at a box store. Our company, and all the folks who work for us, we are the face of Amazon.

“I think that’s one of the things that makes it really cool,” Stone said. “You’re working with a small business that’s tying back into the international conglomerate.”

Amazon hosted a tour of the recently opened delivery center at 4401 E Hefner Road, attended by Stone, U.S. Sen. James Lankford, U.S. Rep Steve Russell and others. The facility is a 60,000-square-foot warehouse designed to receive packages, sort for delivery and then load onto vans for the “last mile” delivery.

The delivery center employs 460. Unlike some of the other centers used for storage of inventory, the sorting of these packages en route for delivery is performed by humans rather than robots.

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