HAZLE TWP. — A snip of scissors Thursday on a navy blue ribbon signified the opening of a new one million square foot American Eagle Outfitters distribution center in the Humboldt Industrial Park.
American Eagle Outfitters, a leading retailer of clothing, accessories and personal care items, has more than 1,000 stores in the United States, Canada, Mexico and China.
The new distribution center will provide a total of 600 employment opportunities to a county that is ranked with the fifth highest unemployment rate in the state. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor’s June 2014 statistics, Luzerne County has an unemployment rate of 6.9 percent.
Facility Director Chris Miller said the center has already employed 100 associates for its call center which is currently operating and accepting online orders. Plans exist to hire 400 seasonal employees for the holiday season. The wage rate for the positions was unavailable.
“Plans are by next year at this time, we will be processing goods to send to retail stores,” Miller said. “This will result in an additional evening shift and more employees.”
The omni-channel facility is the first for American Eagle built from the ground up, Miller said. Omni-channel or multi-channel is a digital based platform, allowing merchandise orders to be filled from either retail stores or warehouse stock.
Repp said his world-wide company was attracted to the region for its centralized location to the metropolitan hubs of New York, Philadelphia and Maryland and the space to accommodate the facility, equivalent to 17 football fields.
“I am very excited to have American Eagle Outfitters in Hazel Township,” said Joe Yannuzzi, Hazleton mayor. “This will have a ripple effect and benefit the whole area.”
Joseph Lettiere, president of CAN DO, recalled looking at the site during the initial meeting with American Eagle Outfitters representatives.
“It is difficult to visualize one million square feet,” Lettiere said. “It is unimaginable.”
Standing in the distribution center, with shiny concert floors and conveyor belts standing at the ready, Lettiere said it was a community effort from governmental officials, utility companies, contractors and CareerLink to bring this opportunity to the area.
Miller, a 15-year employee with American Eagle Outfitters, said she sees the corporate culture of American Eagle Outfitters fitting in nicely with the community and surrounding area. The facility offers employees an on-site gym, training rooms and cafeteria.
Living up to their standards of community involvement, Marcie Eberhart, director of American Eagle Outfitters foundation, presented checks of $5,000 to the United Way, the YMCA’s Go Girl program, Leadership Hazleton and the Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails program to help fund programs to benefit the community.