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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Would Amazon be good for Philly?


Why HQ2 might not be as desirable as it seems

When Amazon announced that it was going to be establishing a second headquarters, cities across North America immediately laid plans to roll out the proverbial red carpet for one of the largest and most profitable corporations in the country.

Over 200 cities provided plans for the new headquarters, complete with infrastructure developments and tax breaks. Philadelphia, like any midsize-to-large city in the country, was among those cities, and was chosen as one of the 20 finalists for the so-called HQ2. But would bringing Amazon to Philadelphia actually be valuable?

On the surface, the benefits of becoming host to the new Amazon headquarters are indisputable: the company has assured that whichever city is chosen, it will receive up to 50,000 new jobs. That possibility alone is incentive enough for most cities to vie for HQ2. Additionally, the prestige that accompanies having a global corporation headquartered in your city is undeniable. Having one large corporation usually pulls in others, a force known as a talent vortex.   

The city of Seattle has added “53,000 jobs (on top of the roughly 40,000 at the Amazon headquarters), some $17 billion in new wages, salaries, and other compensation, and $38 billion in new investment,” from having Amazon in the city, according to Politico,. It’s hard to dispute growth on those figures alone.

But that’s not the whole story.

Amazon has promised 50,000 new jobs at their headquarters, and while not all of these jobs will be in tech positions, it is hard to imagine a city that has enough tech workers at the ready to fill these positions. While obviously there are talented tech workers here in Philadelphia already, many of these new employees at the Amazon headquarters would likely be from out of town.

While an influx of new people into a city can be a good thing, it often leads to an erosion of the city’s cultural identity. Philadelphia already struggles with gentrification of both traditionally black and white neighborhoods.

Bringing in up to 50,000 new people would destroy traditional neighborhoods and uproot communities that have existed long before Amazon did in Seattle. Neighborhoods like Fairmount and Fishtown have already seen the impacts of gentrification and they have not been positive for long-time residents.

The wealth disparity in Seattle has increased exponentially between low-wage workers and those working at tech companies like Amazon. Although Seattle has a $15 minimum wage, that increase alone has not done enough to mitigate the effects of having a large number of higher paid workers while many in the city do not make more than $50,000 a year. In Philadelphia, that disparity would be even more extreme.

Of the 10 largest cities in the United States, Philadelphia has the highest percentage of residents living below the poverty line— 25.7 percent as of 2016. Philadelphia also has the highest rate of deep poverty (residents living at 50 percent of the poverty line or below) among the 10 biggest cities with a rate of 12.2 percent.

Bringing a large corporation whose impact would raise housing prices to the extreme, like it did in Seattle, would hurt those in this city who need help the most.

Although there are benefits to bringing Amazon to Philadelphia, the erasure of the city’s cultural identity through gentrification and the burden it would place on those Philadelphians who are already struggling to get by are reason enough for Philadelphia to pass on this wolf in sheep’s clothing.

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