Posted on

By Patrick McAuliffe

With Amazon’s divorce from New York City as the sight of its next headquarters, Broome County’s government representatives were eager to jump on the company’s recently single status. February 14th can be considered the day that Broome County Executive Jason Gardner proposed to Amazon to consider this area as its new home, and although the offer was politely declined, the door remains open for the two to remain friends. Professional wingman Rep. Anthony Brindisi offered his support and encouraged Amazon to take the plunge. What would happen if Amazon took him up on it?

Broome County’s heart has been broken before. IBM’s departure in the 1990s was the most recent setback, and a trip in any direction from Binghamton’s downtown shows clear evidence of the ache it left behind. Another staple manufacturer of the region, Sanmina-SCI, closed its location at the end of last year. Unemployment in manufacturing has dropped 64% from 1990 to 2013, according to the Press and Sun Bulletin. The only reason Broome County has not gone completely under is through healthcare jobs and service industries generated by the demand from BU students. However, as Greece has found out (with a 19% unemployment rate as of July 2018 and tourism set to be almost a quarter of its industry by 2028), any area cannot survive on services alone. Concrete production or distribution industries are the most reliable way to jump-start an economy.

What if Broome County’s heart is broken? Many people, especially more liberal students or those who witness it in their own hometowns, are concerned about the gentrification that comes with Amazon’s arrival. Local people and their enterprises will pale in comparison and eventually fall through the cracks when confronted with the giant that is Amazon, and the more expensive chains and big businesses that follow it. Property is relatively cheap in Broome County, and the price would only rise as these companies buy it up and improve it. As Amazon grows rich from the profits of the low production costs of the area, local workers or businesses will receive comparatively lower compensation for their efforts and will be unable to rise to the new cost of living in their own home county.

Cheap labor and land are not bad things. Companies and their shareholders are rational actors, and want to maximize their profits and gain rewarding returns on their investments. Nike produces world-famous sportswear through sweatshops, and gets rich from it. The sweatshop workers are better off as well. If they were not, they would be busy working in their own shops or farming their own land, because they, too, are rational actors. To them, churning out clothing for first-world countries brings more money and a better life for them and their families than backbreaking agriculture or meager salesmanship. I’m willing to bet that a good portion of local Broomians would love to work in their warehouses and offices instead of their current positions, because working for THE Amazon will push them to be their best and genuinely enjoy what they do. Business Insider reported in October 2018 that Amazon’s 3.8/5 average star review on Glassdoor is over the site’s aggregate average of 3.4/5 stars. Amazon raised its minimum wage to $15/hour last year, and three-quarters of employee testimonies are equal parts satisfaction with their work culture and disbelief at the extremely competitive nature of their colleagues.

Binghamton students would benefit greatly from Amazon’s Broome County headquarters as well. New York City, which is close to where many students are from, serves as the source of a good portion of internships for us. It may be close to home for many, but an internship with Amazon right next door to our school integrates students more with the community with an equally weighted name as JP Morgan or PWC. The experiences that students could gain from working at Amazon’s headquarters would undoubtedly be rewarding.

Finally, my final argument for Amazon’s marriage to Broome County is one that some Trump supporters may dislike. Manufacturing jobs have been leaving Rust Belt states in the US for years, simply because it’s getting too expensive to retain low-skilled jobs in a country with mandatory higher labor costs. Binghamton is New York’s mini-Rust Belt. Like Nike and other corporations, the same quality goods can be produced for much cheaper overseas or south of the border; why stay? Higher skilled jobs such as those that Amazon will bring will raise the standard of living in Broome County, it’s true. Those that can rise to the challenge will gain leaps and bounds over their previous life. I know it isn’t as simple as to say, “Learn to code.” If Amazon is smart, it would make more investments in Broome County than land. Partnerships with our university or the establishment of effective, affordable training programs for the local workforce would give rewarding returns to all involved parties. Amazon will gain a competent, driven workforce and our local communities, especially those of women and people of color (felt the need to point these two out for identity politics leftists), will gain the skills they need to participate in their new economy and reduce the amount of inevitable losers for such an increase in the standard of living. The future is now, old man, and Amazon could have a long and happy relationship with Broome County and its people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *