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Carroll leaders fear Des Moines-area Amazon center’s effect on local sales

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With reports emerging of development of a massive Amazon shipping fulfillment center in Bondurant, business and community leaders in Carroll — 95 miles away — say the increased speed and convenience associated with deliveries from the online Goliath could make west-central Iowa retailers and other businesses vulnerable.

“We have enough competition now with online shopping,” Carroll Area Development Corporation President Jim Auen said. “Now that Amazon is going to be within two hours of Carroll, it could change the landscape.”

According to the Des Moines Register, Amazon has declined to confirm the Bondurant plan, but the City of Bondurant will waive a portion of taxes for what is believed to be the center, a venture code-named “Project Bluejay.” Documents have shown the project could cost $250 million, The Register reports.

Carroll City Manager Mike Pogge-Weaver said Carroll remains a strong area trade community, a “power center” for the region. But Amazon goes where the customers are with a goal of delivery in a day or less, he noted.

“This obviously gets that to be one step closer to that” where Carroll is concerned, Pogge-Weaver said.

For decades, people from surrounding communities have come to Carroll to shop, boosting employment opportunities here as well as sales and property tax collections, the city manager said.

“The fear is, how does that affect Carroll over the long term?” Pogge-Weaver said. “It’s a real potential if you lose those sales to places like Amazon.”

He raised the potential of Carroll shoppers being able to order from a dizzying or seemingly endless inventory of items from Amazon on their smartphones in the morning during a work break and arrive home at the end of the business day to find them already delivered from Bondurant.

Auen said Carroll businesses, and those in other communities, can compete with Amazon with better service and shopping experiences. Other counter-measures may be needed as well, he said.

“We have to encourage local people to spend locally,” Auen said.

The Register reports the Amazon warehouse is expected to be complete by the summer of 2021.

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