Bashing Amazon is Elitist Pastime
Less than two miles from our home, with its ubiquitous logo perched over the interstate like a welcome sign to the city, sits the local Amazon call center.
The company’s presence is a story-within-a-story. After a long time in a downtown location, several years ago Amazon built a new headquarters on the upper half of what had been designed as a high-tech office park.
City fathers originally envisioned the development as a way to attract high-tech companies to the city.
In the late 1990s, it was actually a far-sighted type of plan. One that took it on the chin amid the dot-com bust that few saw coming.
Thus, developers had to tweak the idea. That’s why a skin doctor, dentist’s office, and hotel complex sit on land adjacent to Amazon. And why a car dealership is developing a parcel nearby.
Still, Amazon’s relocation has spurred additional development on the park’s lower portion. It is now home to two hotels, a car dealership, a gymnasium, and a restaurant (with another under construction).
In short, land sitting idle three decades ago is brimming with activity, employment, and spin-off developments on the other side of the highway.
It’s the kind of economic development that West Virginians—unlike some of the people of Queens, New York—would be more than happy to see keep coming.
I for one am delighted Amazon chose to locate here. Several years ago, one of our grandsons landed a seasonal position there that turned into a full-time job.
That in turn led to a supervisory position. And, thanks to his technical wizardry, an even better position where he helps direct the company’s delivery services worldwide.
Periodically, he hops a flight to Seattle for meetings at the home office. He has a job he could do anywhere in the world, but chooses to do here.
Blessing of Work
Were it within my power, I would love to extend an offer to Amazon to build the second half of its second headquarters here, even though it’s decided not to do a New York alternative.
Aside from the fact the company scuttled its plans, our population base is too small and our infrastructure too limited to handle the kind of development once eyed for New York.
Yet, for a state that has been through a mountain of economic struggles the past five decades as the fortunes of coal have sunk ever lower, we can also appreciate what a blessing steady, dependable work represents.
Amazon’s critics love to label it “slave labor.” Yet their part-time positions pay better than most part-time work in the region.
And it’s work that comes with benefits and an opportunity to own Amazon stock, presently worth north of $1,600 a share.
Elitists in Action
Ironically, the news stories I saw, like this one, said that most New Yorkers favored Amazon coming to the city.
But left-wing activists and the politicians who appear to be at their beck and call raised enough stink to scuttle the plan.
Out here in Middle America, we see this as elitism run amok. Those who claim to be for the “little guy” turn around and deny ordinary folks a chance to land honest work.
Now, there may be legitimate reasons Amazon didn’t deserve the tax breaks it sought, as argued in this Clear Politics article.
But I remember the harsh criticism aimed at former Kentucky Gov. Martha Layne Collins in the mid-1980s when she offered Toyota tax breaks to build a manufacturing plant near Lexington.
Today that plant employs 8,000 people and is an economic engine for central Kentucky.
It’s a vivid picture of what New Yorkers just lost, and what West Virginians would love to have.