We asked faculty members to offer their insights into Amazon’s decision to open two new facilities not far from Le Moyne – a distribution center in Clay and a last-mile delivery facility in DeWitt.
Matthew Loveland, Ph.D.
Teaches Urban Politics, Social Activism, and Public Administration
It’s hard to deny the convenience of having anything you want delivered to your door. But a record just left on my steps was not the one I ordered. Amazon is not perfect. It’s full of contradictions. I could have (should have?) shopped at the local record store. Now that Amazon is in town, making it even more convenient, will the familiar faces at the record store lose their jobs, becoming gig workers delivering packages as a side-hustle? There’s a very good chance that the greater convenience will only make it harder for other local businesses to compete. That said, the Syracuse area has been in need of good economic news for a long time, and the construction and permanent jobs certainly will benefit many in our community. If Amazon commits to offering quality jobs and a living wage, then its presence in Central New York won’t be all bad.
Margie Ierlan, Ph.D.
Teaches Green Marketing, Consumer Behavior, Marketing Research, and Marketing Management
The expansion of Amazon into Central New York will bring a necessary boost to the area’s job market and economy. Syracuse continues to have one of the highest levels of poverty in the United States, thus, the 1,000 jobs that Amazon plans to create will aid in alleviating some of the region’s problems. The further impact of this venture lies in the programs and benefits that Amazon will offer to employees, as well as the efforts of local governments to ensure that these programs are in place and enforced.
It is my hope that Amazon will also initiate programs that will impact not only employees but all of Central New York to rise out of economic despair. Amazon has a strong history of engaging with communities and my hope is that it would encourage employees to get G.E.D.s, create scholarships for their children to go to college, and offer other benefits that will raise the education level in Central New York, which will increase the likelihood of success and reduce the reliance on government programs.
Cliff Donn, Ph.D.
Teaches Introduction to Criminology, Conflict Resolution, and Criminal Justice Systems
The natural hope for the expansion of Amazon into the Syracuse area with a distribution center and a warehouse is that it will provide new opportunities for employment and it will increase the tax base in our community. It could potentially also reduce the time for Amazon deliveries in the nearby area. However, there are several potential downsides. For the communities where the facilities are located, there is the possibility of increased traffic congestion. Another downside is that communities often “give away” most of the tax revenue for a long period of time in order to attract such employers. In addition, given its recent behavior, Amazon appears to be an anti-union employer, which could place downward pressure on wages and benefits in the community.
Caitlin Esposito, O.T.D., O.T.R./L.
Teaches Occupational Therapy Practice in Mental Health and Professional Reasoning
As an occupational therapist, I don’t find people jobs, but I do help them gain or keep the skills necessary to participate in desired “occupations,” those things they need, want or are expected to do every day. The inability to participate in an occupation can have a direct impact on their quality of life. Just finding a job, however, should not be the only consideration as many come with risk factors posing potential threats to overall health and well-being. The jobs coming to Central New York through Amazon can be a great opportunity, but may also come with long hours, repetitive task demands, and limited personal interaction that could lead to physical and mental injury. As an O.T., I would work with companies like Amazon and their employees to limit these risk factors and prevent adverse work situations. Through the use of ergonomics to prevent work-related injury, work hardening to prepare employees for the physical demands of their roles, or education and training in stress management, O.T.s can promote health and well-being as well as improved quality of life.