The allure of Amazon and its second headquarters coming to your town with 50,000 jobs can be exciting and overwhelming. The first cut has been made from 238 applicants down to 20. Amazon really should have come up with a mini-series, or promotion like the NFL draft, to popularize their move exponentially. As with sports, getting cut hurts, and you try to sit back and re-evaluate yourself to see what you can do better. This is what many of the cities eschewed by Amazon are doing. Regarding the 50,000 “high paying” jobs Amazon boasts of bringing, one wonders how many of these are the same $12 an hour jobs we have heard of recently. If so, cities are putting in a lot of effort to bring low wage jobs to town.
From Sacramento to Orlando, cities are taking their postmortem phone calls from Amazon as a starting point to change. Infrastructure and tech talent appear to be the main attractants needed by these cities. Are cities like these changing just to please Amazon, or are they seeing a bigger picture of future business growth? Richard Florida, a professor at the University of Toronto and critic of the Amazon HQ2 process, says it is misguided for cities to focus on Amazon’s criticisms. “I don’t think communities should be rushing to please Amazon,” he said. “They should be looking to build their own regional economies and not trying to let any large company tell them what to do.” Spoken like a true academic.
In all likelihood, the recipient community should make out well. With Amazon’s selected city there will be money made financing a new $5 billion corporate campus, home purchases for the upper echelon employees, not to mention the financing of countless businesses that will cluster around Amazon’s HQ2.
Let’s put the financial gains aside for a moment. There is a more sinister social side to Amazon in its request for proposals. In a little-noted codicil of this request, Amazon mentions the question of “compatible cultural and community environment.” This is liberal speak for how politically correct is your city. Did you think that a guy from Seattle who owns the Washington Post would relocate to a red state or city? Amazon has quietly made rights for and acceptance of gay and transgender people part of its criteria in choosing a second headquarters, according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk freely. Of course it has, because this is the very key to the success of a business-not!
Once again, I have to site the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire when discussing Amazon here. Along with economic collapse and the arrival of the barbarian hordes, a decline in civic virtue had a lot more to do with the end of Roman rule. If our sexually obsessed society isn’t Romanesque yet, it is very close. One wonders if Henry Ford considered the culture of Dearborn when building manufacturing facilities. Well, that was a different era. Really?