Amazon should heed the effects of its presence in Seattle as it moves forward with development of its second headquarters in Northern Virginia and Long Island City, Queens, argues Dr. Arthur M. Langer, Professor of Professional Practice in the Faculty of Professional Studies, Academic Director of the Programs in Technology Management, and the Director of the Center for Technology Management, in an editorial for New York Daily News.
“In Seattle, a steep influx of non-native, highly paid tech workers led to unsustainable gentrification—skyrocketing housing, rental prices and homelessness—plus overpopulation and gridlocked traffic,” writes Dr. Langer. “If Amazon doesn’t seek alternative pipelines to fill the 50,000 vacant tech jobs, local communities will feel the blast, as much of Seattle did, without reaping the benefits.”
For Long Island City, Amazon has suggested it will invest in local talent from underserved communities and establish an initial $5 million investment to fund workforce development initiatives. Dr. Langer strongly encourages implementation of such programs, writing, “In doing so, the e-commerce giant can provide long-lasting solutions to systemic problems. Tapping into local talent pools boosts employment rates and revitalizes communities, all while improving diversity within the corporation itself.”
In employing local tech talent, Amazon would follow in the path of fellow Fortune 500 company, Prudential Financial. Dr. Langer writes, “In both Newark and El Paso, the corporation partnered with Workforce Opportunity Services, a nonprofit I founded that diversifies corporations by tapping into hidden talent pools from local, underserved communities. In El Paso, home of the Fort Bliss military base, Prudential currently has 180 full-time employees. Of those, 97 are post-9/11 veterans, a population with high underemployment and attrition rates.”