Weather Forecast

Close to create 200 jobs in Grand Forks

An package is prepared for shipment in Palo Alto, Calif. The company is adding 200 full-time jobs in Grand Forks. Associated Press

GRAND FORKS - will be adding 200 full-time jobs in the city, a 50 percent increase in its labor force, an economic development official told the City Council on Tuesday.

Klaus Thiessen, president of the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp., said the new jobs and the investment in additional office space serves to "anchor" the Seattle-based online retailer in the area.

The company employs about 400 now, he said, and the new jobs would bring annual payroll to about

$20 million. He said he anticipates a rapid ramp-up in hiring in the last quarter of the year, which would include additional seasonal workers in time for the holiday shopping season.

An official was present at the council meeting but did not speak and referred reporters' questions to company headquarters, which did not immediately return a call from the Grand Forks Herald. has been in Grand Forks since 1999, when it bought the catalog division of Grand Forks-based Tool Crib of the North. It has been a tenant in a city-owned building in the Industrial Park; it now rents 40,000 square feet.

To facilitate the expansion, the company is renting another 29,000 square feet of space in the back of an adjacent city-owned building now occupied by aircraft-maker Cirrus Design, which will still rent the remaining 131,000 square feet.

The 10-year lease says will pay $131,000 a year and will have the option to extend the lease for up to 20 additional years. It will also pay the cost of converting factory space to office space, which is estimated at $837,000.

That conversion and the division of the building will cost the city $1.1 million, according to Urban Development Director Greg Hoover. The city had estimated a cost of $1.9 million, but bids from contractors were favorable.

The company wants to move in by Sept. 15 and no later than Dec. 1, Hoover told the council.