EMPLOYMENT

Not just Amazon: Warehouse industry growing in the Poconos, and jobs are plenty

Brian Myszkowski
Pocono Record

As the northeastern region of Pennsylvania continues to work its way out of employment losses associated with COVID-19, warehouse workers appear to be in high demand across the area.

After suffering devastating losses in manufacturing and trade, transportation and utilities in 2020, the Bureau of Labor and statistics reports that positions in those sectors are finally climbing back to near pre-pandemic levels. And as more and more companies are looking to the northeast region of the commonwealth to set up their own warehouses, the market could very well continue to climb even further.

With the boom of e-commerce and faster guaranteed shipping, attaining a prime location for a warehouse is a key element to success. However, with commercial land often limited, and sold at a premium when it is available, companies are continuing to turn their eyes toward the northeastern region of the commonwealth.

As of August 30, Indeed.com lists over 1,000 warehouse positions within a 50-mile radius of Scranton alone. While pay rates appear variable on the whole, most rates start at $15 minimum for entry-level jobs, of which there are more than 900 open positions, with the bulk being full-time.

Many of these companies, including Saks Fifth Avenue in Wilkes-Barre and McClane in Jessup, offer benefits packages, and some — such as Noble Biomaterials in Scranton — are even throwing out sign-on bonuses ranging from a few hundred dollars to $2,500.

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Amazon, a powerhouse when it comes to warehouse positions, has several locations across the northeast portion of the commonwealth, including a few spots across the Lehigh Valley, as well as properties in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties.

It isn't uncommon to see a post listed with details such as "hiring multiple candidates" or "urgently hiring" when you search for warehouse positions in the region; often both descriptors make an appearance.

And those are just the jobs that are available right now: In the near future, NEPA could see a whole new boom for warehouse workers.

NAI Summit just recently announced the lease of a 52,800-square foot industrial warehouse space at 196 Commercial Boulevard in Monroe County to Ally Global Logistics, an international transportation specialist in freight and expedited shipping.

According to NAI Summit Senior Vice President Mike Adams, who closed the deal alongside Vice President Sarah Finney Miller, the Blakeslee location of the lot was a deciding factor in the deal.

“The location of the property near Interstate 80 will enhance Ally Global Logistics’ presence and coverage in the US Northeast,“ Adams said.

Allentown-based brokerage firm NAI Summit recently facilitated a lease of property in Monroe County owned by 196 Commercial LLC to tenant, Ally Global Logistics. Ally Global, an international transportation specialist in freight and expedited shipping, hopes to enhance their "presence and coverage" in the northeastern part of the United States.

Meanwhile, over in Tannersville, Core5 Industrial Partners has made an $8.1 million offer to purchase land adjacent to a property they already own. They are also seeking approval for construction of another warehouse on other property.

Pocono Township Manager Taylor Muñoz said that it is too early to predict how new warehouses will affect the region, particularly in employment opportunities, though companies have certainly shown an interest in developing in NEPA.

The trick is, many municipalities, townships and other areas are going to have to take time to figure out how to make these projects work.

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"Going back aways, it used to be said that 'we'll never see warehouse development in the Poconos. That's something that is more conducive to flat topography and the Lehigh Valley,'" Muñoz said. "Now, I think we're seeing there's a renewed interest northward, because the Lehigh Valley has gotten built out. So now, as municipalities, we are working to try to address new uses that have never been proposed before, and that probably, to some extent, were never fathomed by those who authored our zoning ordinances and other regulations."

Creating an acceptable balance between commerce and the community will inevitably be a challenge, one that seemingly appears inevitable.

"There are there are legitimate concerns amongst residents about the impact of these types of developments, and that's something that we are actively seeking to address as a township," Muñoz said.

Whether the economic boost from open jobs can help attract and maintain workers in the area is up for debate, as is the question of the effects large warehouses may have on the region's infrastructure. But one thing does remain certain: NEPA is already in need of warehouse workers, and more jobs are on the way.