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Amazon Alexa team speaks up about new downtown project and future plans

AMAZON alexa 1
The Amazon Alexa offices are open on State Street in Santa Barbara with plans to expand the staff and be part of downtown in many ways. (Photo: John Palminteri)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The highly anticipated Amazon alexa work space at 1001 State Street in Santa Barbara is now open, growing the staff and the team leaders say they will be a part of the downtown in many ways.

It will not have a package pickup site as some have speculated, but that may come to the area at another location if the decision is made down the road.

The workers inside will be focused on the voice command system used by millions of people worldwide in several languages. It is already in service and continues to expand its ability to answer questions and complete certain functions after hearing just a few words or a short phrase.

Amazon Alexa Senior Manager Kevin Davis says tech businesses are filling up several of the open buildings in downtown. "In the eight years there's been a lot of expansion of it,  great community   great education from the university locally. "   Amazon is in the former Saks Off 5th site.

  All three floors have been remodeled for work spaces,  employee lounges and meeting rooms. 

Close to 300 workers will eventually be employed.  Hiring is still underway.     
Many of the workers are  UC Santa Barbara graduates, transfers from other tech companies and a related building in San Luis Obispo is also doing this work there with tech workers throughout the Central Coast, including graduates from Cal Poly.

 Davis says "we have a range of engineering roles based on different technical bars that one might have.  It includes software engineering,  knowledge engineering is great for people who are not necessarily with technical degrees but are looking to become more technical. "

Quietly, Amazon says it has been in the area for about 10 years. It was in a Summerland building and had acquired the company Graphiq.

Amazon employees are also expected to be a boost for surrounding businesses.    While they have large break rooms,  daily lunch meals are not delivered as some companies are doing to keep their workers close to the campus site.   Amazon's crew will likely fan out.    Nearby restaurants have already sent over menus and encouraged business with discounts and specials.
The company is also a primary sponsor for the First Thursday event that was designed as an economic stimulus for downtown.   
This week Amazon will have its lobby open,  and have a featured artist.   The teen duo known as the Piano Boy will be performing.

"Amazon always invests in the community where we are at   and if you go around the world you will see our offices are in downtown urban centers and our employees are living and interacting with the customers we are trying to serve every day," said Davis.

Some of the space will be used for technical talks,  seminars and student - tech gatherings.

"I am also not just thinking about UCSB.  I am thinking about high schools, robotics teams,  there are other ways we can help.  Amazon has made a big push nationally with STEM education early on."

In addition to the work space for the Alex voice based technology for millions of devices, part of the building will be used for a still to be named new restaurant that will be open for the public.

For more information about Amazon or employment opportunities go to: Amazon - Santa Barbara

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT NewsChannel 3 and KCOY 12 Central Coast News.