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Amazon looking for local residents to start courier businesses to serve Gary warehouse

Parisa Sadrzadeh, a senior manager of logistics for Amazon.com, opens the door of an Amazon-branded delivery van at the company's announcement of a new program that lets entrepreneurs around the country launch businesses that deliver Amazon packages.

Amazon is looking for a few good entrepreneurs to help deliver packages throughout Northwest Indiana.

The online retail giant opened a warehouse in a former TradeWinds plant at 15th Avenue and Texas Street in Gary, right by the 15th Avenue exit on Interstate 65. Amazon Worldwide Transportation Public Relations Director Kelly Cheeseman said the company employs 500 workers in a mix of full-time and part-time positions at the new logistics hub in Gary, which is a "last-mile" delivery station for shipping packages to local customers.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said the company wants local residents to start up their own courier businesses to help get packages from the delivery station to customers' doorsteps, as part of a nationwide effort to reduce its dependency on the U.S. Postal Service.

"The concept they have is for people to start their own businesses by being the delivery person," Freeman-Wilson said. "They will allow people to start their own courier services to deliver for Amazon specifically. A growth in small business and a growth in entrepreneurship can only help the city."

Any interested entrepreneurs would have to invest $10,000 in startup costs and undergo three weeks of hands-on training in Seattle, but Freeman-Wilson said Gary was in talks with Amazon about potentially offering local training opportunities.

Amazon's new Delivery Service Partner program seeks entrepreneurs who would operate delivery businesses with 20 to 40 vans, and 40 to 100 employees, according to Amazon. The company said startup costs are as low as $10,000 and that the business owners could expect between $1 million and $4.5 million in annual revenue, and between $75,000 and $300,000 in potential annual profit, after ramping up to a fleet of at least 20 vans.

The courier businesses would deliver 20 to 40 routes per day 365 days a year, serving thousands of customers across Northwest Indiana. The Seattle-based e-commerce giant would offer them "exclusive deals on Amazon-branded vans, comprehensive insurance, industrial-grade handheld devices, and other services to help you get your delivery business up and running."

The company would also recommend vendors for uniforms, fuel cards and other essentials at rates Amazon negotiated.

Amazon also would offer support including a dedicated account manager, an operations manual and driver assistance for any on-road problems that arise.

"We give you the tools and technology you’ll need to run your business, designed to keep your operation running smoothly," the company said in a flier that the city of Gary has been distributing. "Launching a business becomes that much easier with Amazon’s delivery volume and resources behind you."

Amazon also is offering start-up cost reimbursement of up to $10,000 for military veterans who qualify for the Delivery Service Partner program.

For more information, visit logistics.amazon.com or email dsp@amazon.com.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.