BESSEMER, Ala. (WIAT) — Alabama’s first Amazon fulfillment center will open its doors in Bessemer in 2020.

Mayor Kenneth Gulley believes the city will continue to capitalize on Amazon’s historic investment. In the city’s 138-year history, Amazon’s $361 million investment in the center is the largest investment to ever come to Bessemer.

Mayor Gulley credits Bessemer’s proximity with one of the key reasons the city was chosen as the home to Alabama’s first Amazon first Fulfillment Center. 

“Amazon, when they chose to bring a Fulfillment Center, where they were trying to service a market where they can access within a four hour period of time.  So when you think about parts of Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee can all be accessed from right here in Bessemer in a four hour period of time” Mayor Gulley said.

The new Amazon will bring 1,500 jobs to the city, with jobs that pay at least $15 an hour to start, free health insurance and tuition reimbursement up to $3,000 a year.

Amazon represents a bright future for a city that’s had its share of struggles over the years.

“Less than 10 years ago, Bessemer was truly at the brink of bankruptcy,” Gulley said. “We really couldn’t make payroll and had difficulty making payroll and to see and be able to usher in and recruit some of the companies that we’ve been able to get here.”

Jobs and Bessemer used to be synonymous with one another, but that changed about 30 years ago.

“Bessemer, if you think about it, has such a rich history, a lot of peoples in the 80’s prior to that they worked at Pullman Standard,” Gulley said. “When Pullman Standard closed down in the mid 80s unemployment was at 35%, but you look at when we are able to recruit companies like Carvana, Amazon, Dollar General what that does is it stands to put back in this city what we lost in the mid-80s.”

When Amazon opens for business in 2020, it will set Bessemer as a comeback town, something both Gulley and others repeat.

Resident Jess Darius Wilson said he feels that with Amazon, Bessemer will be able to get back on its feet.

“When Amazon comes to town, I feel like it will be more opportunities,” Wilson said.

Gulley ushered in Dollar General, which opened a distribution center in Bessemer back in 2011, bringing 700 jobs. Carvana will open in 2021 bringing an estimated 400 jobs, a nice bookend to the 1,500 jobs from Amazon.

Watch Sherri Jackson’s full interview with Mayor Gulley on a drive from Bessemer City Hall to the new Amazon Fulfillment Center: