Amazon.com posted job openings for a South Carolina operation Wednesday after a deal giving the company a sales tax collection exemption became law without Gov. Nikki Haley's signature.
The company's distribution center in Lexington County should open this fall, and hiring for hundreds of jobs has resumed, it announced minutes after the deal became law, ending months of uncertainty over an incentive plan brokered under former Gov. Mark Sanford. The company announced in April it had pulled job postings and halted its work on the million-square-foot facility off Interstate 77 when lawmakers initially rejected that plan.
"We appreciate South Carolina's decision to welcome Amazon jobs and investment, and we look forward to a long, productive partnership with the state," said Dave Clark, vice president of Amazon's North American operations.
Haley opposed giving the company a 4 1/2-year exemption from collecting South Carolina's sales tax in exchange for a promise of 2,000 full-time jobs and a $125 million investment. She and other opponents said it gave Amazon an unfair price advantage over brick-and-mortar retailers. But she left passage up to legislators and promised she would not veto it. Her deadline to sign or veto the bill was midnight Tuesday.
Five Democratic legislators held a news conference to welcome Amazon and blast Haley, saying she didn't lead on a deal that brought jobs to a state struggling with high unemployment rates.
"You almost single-handedly torpedoed this deal," said Sen. Joel Lourie, D-Columbia.
The Democrats set up a table at their news conference for a mock bill signing, with "missing" posters of the governor and a milk carton with her photo. Rep. Boyd Brown, D-Winnsboro, accused Haley of still being in campaign mode.
Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey said the governor was not interested in such political stunts.
"These legislators should give the people of South Carolina the respect of taking their job seriously," he said.
Amazon said its jobs include medical, dental and vision coverage for workers as well as stock grants and other employee benefits.
The new law says Amazon doesn't have to collect sales tax from South Carolina online shoppers until January 2016.
The company already wasn't collecting the tax, so shoppers likely won't notice any change as they buy online.
However, under a compromise approved in the Senate, shoppers will receive a notice on the confirmation email for each purchase that they're responsible for paying the sales tax to the state. Customers will also receive an annual tally of their purchases, reminding them they may owe the sales tax on their income tax return. The information will not go to the revenue agency.