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Project "Tango" revealed

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By PATRICK HALL, The Wilson Post
Many new developments regarding Amazons role in Tennessee were revealed yesterday as one state official confirmed the company as the secret Project Tango, and Gov. Bill Haslam reached an agreement with the company to collect sales taxes by 2014.

Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty confirmed to media at a press conference in Nashville Thursday that Project Tango is in fact Amazon.

For the past several months, Lebanon and Wilson County have been recruiting the formerly-secret company to bring one or two locations to the community. Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto has previously indicated one of those locations would bring up to 1,200 jobs and another up to 500.

Amazon is hiring to staff a 500,000 square-foot fulfillment center that was announced on July 28 to be located in Lebanon. Project Tango is reportedly a separate venture by Amazon to include a 1 million square-foot sorting facility and another non-sorting facility.

Lebanon and Wilson County are still in the running for Amazons Project Tango locations and could see another significant job boost if one or both facilities locate here.

Competing with Lebanon and Wilson County for Amazons new facilities are Rutherford County, Clarksville and Montgomery County, Loudon County and other locations in at least three other states.

G.C. Hixson, executive director of the Joint Economic and Community Development Board of Wilson County, would not confirm Hagertys statement because he has signed a non-disclosure form.

Every community thats in the running has signed a non-disclosure agreement, Hixson said.
Elsewhere in Tennessee, Amazon has established similar facilities in Chattanooga and Cleveland. In Chattanooga, a sorting facility there is said to handle the shipping of smaller items bought from the online retailer and employ around 1,000 workers. Cleveland has a non-sorting facility dealing in larger items and employing up to 500 people.

While details from local officials are still under wraps, Hixson said he felt Lebanon and Wilson County are in good position to land the company. Added to the current Amazon facility, Wilson County could see a total of almost 3,000 jobs added to the local community in the best-case scenario.

I feel good about the project, we are where we need to be, Hixson said.

With an existing facility in Lebanon and at least 300 workers already hired for that facility, Lebanon and Wilson County appear to have an advantage with the company in securing one of the Project Tango/Amazon locations. Amazon signed a two-year lease with Duke Realty for its current facility located off Central Pike near State Route 840.

Also on Thursday, Haslam announced a new agreement with Amazon that includes the company bringing an additional 2,000 jobs to the state and collecting state sales taxes in 2014.
Amazon and its subsidiaries are expected to create 3,500 full-time jobs in the state and thousands of seasonal jobs while making a $350 million capital investment by maintaining previously announced projects in Wilson, Hamilton and Bradley counties.

We are proud that this worldwide brand has chosen to make a significant investment in Tennessee and is committed to expanding its presence here, Haslam said.

The deal must be approved by the Tennessee General Assembly when it convenes in January 2012. Under the current law, consumers are required to pay use tax to the Tennessee Department of Revenue when making online purchases from a retailer that does not collect sales tax.

This agreement balances meeting the needs of the company and the needs of the state by providing certainty to Amazon and brick-and-mortar retailers in Tennessee regarding sales tax, Haslam said.

On Jan. 1, 2014, the responsibility for collecting and remitting Tennessee sales tax will fall on online retailers, including Amazon, unless the federal government enacts legislation setting a national standard for collecting sales taxes.

Staff Writer Patrick Hall may be contacted at phall@wilsonpost.com.

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