The Herald News, Friday, December 11, 2015 – Page A2

By Kevin P. O’Connor
Email: koconnor@heraldnews.com

Fall River – Amazon is a magnet in the SouthCoast Life Science and Technology Park, city officials said.

Since Amazon committed to a facility in the park, the city has been getting calls from other companies, according to Ken Fiola, the executive director of the Office of Economic Development.

“There seems to be a lot more interest in the land around the Amazon project,” Fiola told the FROED Board at its meeting Thursday.

The city is still in the running for a 200,000-square-foot-development that would fit the city’s wish to place companies involved in life sciences in the park, Fiola said.

“Fall River is still in the running,” he said. “They have delayed a decision, but the project is still viable.”

Cannatech Medicinals of Attleboro reached an agreement on Wednesday with the city Redevelopment Authority, which owns the 300-acre biotechnology office park. Cannatech received an option to buy 12 acres to build a marijuana cultivation facility next to Amazon if it gets a state license to grow medical marijuana.

“This is far from becoming a reality at this point,” Fiola said. “At this point, the RDA action just allows them to remain active as an entity while pursuing this license.”

The projects are not all huge. There is a 4-acre parcel next to the Amazon site that is intended for amenities – a restaurant or a convenience store and gas station, Fiola said.

“A local commercial entity reached out to us,” Fiola said. “We are looking to see if this is a project we want to get involved in.”

The Amazon project, meanwhile, is speeding forward. Construction crews are erecting walls on the one-million-square-foot fulfillment center under construction.

Plans are being made with Bristol Community College, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and the Career Center to begin screening and processing applications to work and setting up training programs for people Amazon will hire, Fiola said.

The center is scheduled to open in the fall of 2016.

“They will need a work force ready to go as soon as they open the doors,” Fiola said. “We will be sitting down in the early spring to discuss how to do this.”