Keila Szpaller

(Daily Montanan) Gov. Greg Gianforte cut the ribbon Wednesday on the “first Amazon facility in Montana,” which created more than 100 jobs, according to the Governor’s Office.

“Montana is stronger when companies like Amazon choose to invest in our people and our state,” Republican Gov. Gianforte said in a statement. “I’m thrilled to welcome this investment that provides Montanans the opportunity to thrive in a good-paying job, brings faster and more efficient package delivery to our residents, and strengthens our community partnerships.”

At the event, Amazon provided an overview of the delivery operation that connects its national network to customers within a 50-mile radius of Missoula through the new 72,000-square-foot facility, according to the Governor’s Office.

“We are growing into our building, which means we can deliver faster in Missoula and the surrounding area,” said Mabel Funderburk, site leader for the new facility, in a statement. “We have around 6,500 to 7,000 packages a day, and in peak holiday season we saw about 10,000 packages a day.”

In an email, an operation public relations manager for Amazon said wages at the facility start at $17 an hour and go up to $19.40 an hour.

“There are about 100 Amazon associates who work there (picking and sorting items) and approximately 80 drivers who work for an independent delivery service provider (the men and women who deliver in the vans),” said Scott Seroka, operations public relations manager.

Missoulian story said the 80 delivery jobs through third parties pay $21-24 an hour.

The Governor’s Office referred to the facility as the “first” in Montana, but Seroka declined to discuss any future plans in Montana: “We do not speculate or comment on our future footprint or plans in the state.”

The Governor’s Office described the facility as a “last mile” delivery station and said it will receive orders from larger Amazon facilities and dispatch delivery vans to bring those orders to customers’ front doors.

“This was a site that was constructed and delivered by Montana-based firms. So, it really speaks to a local story. Not just for delivery for our customers, but also delivery of a partnership with the community,” said Sam Bailey, Amazon’s economic development policy manager, in a statement.

Many Montana-based firms helped build the facility, according to the Governor’s Office. It cited Dick Anderson Construction and subcontractors PETES Electric and Steed Concrete.

In a news release about the event, the Governor’s Office touted business promotion and job creation as priorities for Gianforte, including the vacuum-technology VACOM investment in Lewistown that will create up to 500 jobs, ammunition-manufacturer Brixtel Defense’s opening in Glendive that will create 350 jobs, and modular-home-manufacturer Dvele’s investment in Butte that will create more than 400 jobs.

“More Montanans are working now than ever before, and the size of our labor force continues to set new records. We’ll continue delivering on our pro-family, pro-jobs agenda to help more folks thrive and achieve the American dream,” the governor said.

Montana has also seen significant business closures in recent weeks, including in the wood products and forest industry.

Pyramid Mountain Lumber employed roughly 100 people and is set to cut off logs to its mill in Seeley Lake at the end of the month; Roseburg particleboard plant in Missoula employs 150 people and will close in May, according to a news release from the company; and earlier in the year, REC Silicon in Butte, which employed 232 people at the end of 2023, announced a closure due to high energy prices.