Amazon is getting real-world real estate in Iowa City, and will give you the chance to deliver its packages (if you have $30,000)

Amazon boxes. — Emma McClatchey/Little Village

Online retail behemoth Amazon will expand its physical presence in the Iowa City area, leasing the former Procter and Gamble distribution center on Heinz Road. Amazon has not yet publicly announced its plans for the 346,062 square-foot facility in southeast Iowa City, but it’s been reported the building will serve as what the company calls a “last-mile delivery station” for package delivery in the surrounding area.

Amazon currently has a smaller delivery station of 18,000 square feet in North Liberty.

The online retailer has delivery center employment positions in Iowa City listed on its site, and on Thursday, Amazon will be holding an information session for anyone interested in working as an Amazon Delivery Service Partner.

The information session will be held at MERGE, the co-working space on the Ped Mall.

Unlike jobs in a delivery station or a “fulfillment center” (Amazon’s preferred term for its major warehouses), a job driving packages to their destinations as a Delivery Service Partner begins with you spending $10,000.

Delivery Service Partners are not actually employed by Amazon. They are independent contractors delivering Amazon packages to their final destinations (the so-called “last mile”). The partners program is the newest effort to reduce delivery costs by the company that reported a record net profit of $10.1 billion in 2018.

The idea is that Amazon will foster the development of small, independently owned delivery businesses around the country to deliver its goods, instead of starting its own service or relying on existing delivery services like UPS, FedEx or the United States Postal Service.

According to Amazon, $10,000 is the estimated amount it takes “to cover key startup costs including legal entity formation and licensing, professional services like accountant and lawyer fees, set up supplies such as a laptop and timekeeping software, recruiting costs such as job postings, drug tests, and driver training, and your travel for owner training.”

But it takes more than $10,000 to qualify for the program. Applicants must prove to Amazon they have at least $30,000. That is “to ensure that our Delivery Service Partners have the funds to cover start-up costs and living expenses while they are building their business,” Amazon explains in its FAQ on the program.

In addition to having $30,000 on hand, Amazon is looking for “grit and leadership” in applicants for the program, according to the FAQ. You don’t have to have a van, however, because vans for the new delivery businesses will be “procured through the van leasing program negotiated by Amazon.”

The two-hour information session at MERGE begins at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday and is free, but Amazon is requiring anyone interested in attending to register in advance.