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Amazon is hard at work not only delivering packages all over the state, but building a workforce pipeline and creating impactful relationships with our local diverse and small business owners, higher education institutions, nonprofits, and other organizations.

MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price spoke with Amazon Vice President of Global Procurement Kennedy Oates and Director, Supplier Diversity and Inclusion CaSondra Devine to learn more about Amazon’s efforts to increase the number of diverse and small businesses doing business with Amazon in Connecticut.

NAN PRICE: Amazon recently hosted local diverse and small business owners at a supplier diversity and inclusion event. Tell us about the importance of creating this type of outreach.

CASONDRA DEVINE: Amazon is a company of builders who bring varying backgrounds, ideas, and points of view to inventing on behalf of our customers. We’re committed to diversity and inclusion and always look for ways to scale our impact as we grow.

With that in mind, Amazon is working to increase the representation of diverse-owned and small businesses in our supply chain. Our recent event hosted more than 200 local diverse and small business owners and supplier diversity advocacy and government partners. The intent was to prepare the business community to be Amazon contract ready and share procurement needs. It was also an opportunity to network with Amazon procurement and leadership teams.

According to our 2021 Amazon Small Business Empowerment Report, Connecticut is among the top 10 states with the highest growth in small businesses on Amazon. Our goal is to continue to build local relationships and drive economic impact in the region.

KENNEDY OATES: Supplier diversity and inclusion activates our leadership principle Success and Scale Bring Broad Responsibility. By partnering with qualified diverse and small businesses, we can drive economic impact and growth for businesses and our communities.

Amazon is determined to engage, develop, and include diverse and small businesses in our supply chain as partners to drive innovation, fuel our customer obsession, and continuously be better for the world at large.

NAN: In addition to partnering with diverse and small businesses, how else is Amazon engaging with the local community?

CASONDRA: Amazon is committed to being a good neighbor and partner in the communities in which our employees live and work. We’ve supported local communities in Connecticut through monetary and in-kind donations to nonprofit organizations and public schools. Some examples include donations to local chapters of the Boys & Girls Club, The Connecticut Food Bank, Connecticut Children’s, local public schools, and other area nonprofits.

In 2022, we already donated $645,000 to Connecticut-based charities, nonprofits and community development organizations. There are also more than 14,500 organizations in Connecticut that Amazon customers can support simply by shopping on Amazon Smile.

In addition, we’re committed to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and upskilling opportunities for our Amazon employees. Our Amazon Future Engineers program supports more than 30 schools in Connecticut. Amazon Web Services has also partnered with the Connecticut Office of Workforce Strategy to provide technical skills training and education to more than 2,000 Connecticut residents by 2024.

This year, as part of Amazon’s Upskilling 2025 Pledge, we expanded the Career Choice program to include the University of Connecticut and Capital Community College as education partners to provide Amazon employees access to pre-paid college tuition.

NAN: Why Connecticut? What makes this region a compelling place for a larger organization like Amazon to have a presence?

CASONDRA: Amazon’s presence in Connecticut means more than just the jobs provided within our fulfillment centers, sortation centers, and delivery stations. In addition to full benefits and great jobs inside the building, we’ve brought thousands of jobs in construction and services.

Since 2010, Amazon has invested more than $4 billion in the state through infrastructure investments and compensation to our employees. These investments have contributed an additional $3.5 billion to Connecticut’s economy. This is the value added to the state’s GDP because of Amazon’s investments in the state since 2010.

Amazon currently has 18,000 full- and part-time jobs in Connecticut and 28 sites in the region with our largest facility in Windsor, CT, planned to open later this year. In addition, using Input-Output methodology developed by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Amazon estimates its investments in the state have created an additional 16,000 indirect jobs on top of the company’s direct hires.

Our fulfillment network supports millions of businesses of all sizes worldwide. Some of these businesses are local organizations based right here in Connecticut. There are more than 16,000 authors, small- and medium-sized businesses, and developers in Connecticut growing their businesses and reaching new customers through Amazon.

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