Even Before Its Incentives Are Finalized, Amazon Is Already Making Waves In Nashville | Nashville Public Radio

Even Before Its Incentives Are Finalized, Amazon Is Already Making Waves In Nashville

Mar 19, 2019

Nashville is prepping for the arrival of Amazon, its 5,000 jobs and all that may come with it. Already, there's some fear that the internet giant's entrance could drive up the cost of living as high as in Seattle, where the median home price has eclipsed $750,000.

Nashville Business Journal senior reporter Adam Sichko has been tracking the so-called "Amazon Effect" [here] [here] and [here], and he says it seems to have already begun, even before the Metro Council votes Tuesday night on a $17.5 million incentive package.

 

Interview highlights:

 

Touting Proximity

 

"We're already seeing, certainly on the real estate side, property owners advertising their buildings as being 'less than a mile to Amazon's downtown campus.' When you look at the salaries that Amazon says it's going to pay to these 5,000 workers, you're very clearly adding a lot of people who can afford the most expensive rents or the most expensive home prices. And so I think there's already apartment owners and homebuilders alike who are gearing up to be able to charge those higher rents at the high end of the market."

 

Competing With $150,000 Annual Salaries

"You absolutely have companies — many companies — bracing for the impact of this, even if they're happy that Amazon is coming to town. Health care companies, tech companies, companies in the distribution and logistics industry, they're all pretty confident that their talented employees are at least going to take a look at these Amazon job postings, if not go after them. And so they are already taking steps to work on retaining the talent they've got and figuring out other creative ways to keep themselves competitive."

Where Are They Coming From?

"We still don't know where these workers are going to come from. Nashville does not yet have a huge talent pool in the tech community. It's growing, but not there yet. So you would expect Amazon to be drawing workers from outside the market. In this legislation [to approve Metro incentives], Amazon says that it expects about 40 percent of its workers would live in Davidson County. ... They say they're going to hire a thousand people over the course of this year. So those numbers will start to show up pretty soon."

Becoming A Good Corporate Citizen

"They're trying to take some steps on the front end to create a message that they are going to be a good neighbor, that they want to be part of the Nashville community. They've committed $800,000 to Tennessee State University, a neighbor of theirs. That'll endow a computer science professorship there, which I'm sure will ideally, for Amazon, funnel some top talented college students Amazon's way. [They also announced two, $100,000 grants last week to education and recidivism programs], again trying to frame themselves as good neighbors and eager to become part of the Nashville community."

Avoiding New York-Like Resistance

"I think they may have been doing those things [like making donations] or working on those things in New York City, but the numbers involved there on the incentives front, that debate ... really took hold of the whole storyline there. So certainly, here you're seeing a little bit more obvious public effort at the outset to try to get ahead of some of that."

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