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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Flies In To Shovel Dirt At CVG

Ann Thompson
Jeff Bezos (left) suprised guests at the Amazon groundbreaking Tuesday.

More than two years after Amazon announced it would build an Air Hub at the Cincinnati Northern Kentucky International Airport, the online giant broke ground Tuesday on the $1.5 billion project. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos made a surprise appearance.

"Let's move some earth," Bezos proclaimed as he hopped on a front loader and moved a ceremonial pile of dirt.

Bezos' company is counting on Amazon Air to decrease the shipment for Prime members from two days to one. He said the hub at CVG would be one way Amazon will do it.

Credit Ann Thompson / WVXU
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos wasn't at CVG long but he was there long enough to drive a front loader at the official groundbreaking.

Amazon says it chose CVG for a number of reasons, including a skilled workforce, a centralized location and proximity to fulfillment centers.

As part of the deal, CVG is leasing 900 acres for 50 years. Amazon will build a 3-million-square foot facility. It will create more than 2,000 jobs. Six-hundred of them will be full-time. It will fly 40 Boeing 767s.

To land the deal, Kentucky brought $45 million to the table in incentives.

What's Taking So Long?

Since the announcement, Amazon has been acquiring land. Also, planning is underway for new roads to accommodate all the traffic and a new interstate exit. Our news partner WCPO reports work on the new I-275 Graves Road exit will begin this fall.

Amazon also has a presence at the Wilmington Air Park. The new air gateway will include daily flights and sorting operations.

Former fighter pilot Sarah Rhoades is the director for Amazon Air. She says the hub at CVG will be the company's largest and be key in moving packages around the U.S. "If you place an order in Seattle for an item that may only exist outside of our Tampa facility that item will be launched out of our gateway in Tampa. It will fly into Cincinnati. It will get sorted and put into an aircraft for onward movement..."

When Amazon Air ramps up, CVG may see its cargo skyrocket. In the last three years cargo is up 54 percent at CVG. It is eighth in North America.

Credit Ann Thompson / WVXU
Amazon says its hub at CVG will be finished in 2021 and be the online retailer's largest.