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Amazon HQ2: why are we hypocrites about our local communities?

I hate to say this out loud but the craziness around Amazon HQ2 is pissing me off.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Amazon (yes, that Amazon) announced a few weeks ago that they were interested in finding a new home for their second headquarters.

We expect to invest over $5 billion in construction and grow this second headquarters to include as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs

OK, let’s start with a question: how do you think people would respond if I sent out an email and said “hey, you can be my second best friend!!!!”

At best, you’d ignore me. At worst, you’d tell me to fuck off. And then you’d ignore me.

But somehow, Amazon is different.

Local mayors are tripping over themselves to send 20′ saguaros on flatbed trucks to Amazon. Local sportscasters are broadcasting their pitches to woo Amazon. Local economic development groups are sending out frantic emails to anyone that will give them an endorsement for their local pitch.

It’s all a waste.

In the end, one city will win and hundreds will lose out. And I’ll bet money that the city that’s going to win is already a “Tier 1 city” — whatever that means. (Let’s be honest, Amazon isn’t going to “include as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs” if your metro region is smaller than 1,000,000 people.)

What this whole process is doing is shining a light on all the local leaders that should be working on teaching their current residents the skills they need to sell their skills, their products or their time through the internet.

The hypocrisy of this whole process is that we’re celebrating a gamble of bringing an existing company to town rather than embracing the process of teach our people to create the next thing right where they live.

The rest of America doesn’t need 50,000 more high-paying jobs from a single employer. What the rest of America needs is 50,000 more people being taught the skills they need to begin earning an extra $1,000/month through the internet by the end of this year.

Most of those people will be happy with an extra income to supplement whatever they’re already earning. Some of those people will see that $1,000/month as a stepping stone to something bigger. And, in the end, the rest of America wins.