20 LONGISLANDPRESS.COM • JANUARY 2019
AMAZON TO PUT SQUEEZE ON LI’S LIMITED TECH-JOB POOL
continued from page 19
Amazon's announcement in
mid-November ended a 14-month
search for its East Coast headquarters.
Aside from the facility in the
Anable Basin in Long Island City,
Amazon will open another in Crystal
City, Va., a Washington, D.C., suburb,
adding 25,000 jobs there as well. The
company also said it will invest a total
of $5 billion — $2.5 billion each — into
the two new headquarters.
Long Island City is congested, dominated
by aging warehouses, mom and
pop stores, and high-rise apartment
buildings. Amazon's building will face
Midtown Manhattan. The company
promises to change the area’s face,
sending rentals skyrocketing, but also
bringing in new businesses, restaurants
and entertainment venues.
Peter Goldsmith, chairman of
the Plainview-based Long Island
Software & Technology Network,
a regional advocacy group, agreed
Amazon will bring increased competition
to Island companies for
valuable tech workers. But he said
ultimately Amazon will lure other
high-tech companies to the region,
Long Island has tried over the decades,
without success, to find a new
engine for its economic growth, after
the sharp downsizing of Northrup
Grumman Corporation. Goldsmith
said he now looks at Amazon as the
beginning of a Silicon Valley East.
For now, Island tech employers are
focused on how to keep workers who
may be attracted to the high-profile
Amazon and its global allure.
"The problem for us is to pay the
salaries," says Arnold Stillman, CEO
of POEM LLC, an internet company
in Plainview. Stillman and others
chafed at the government handouts
Amazon will receive. The company
will receive $2.8 billion in state and
city tax breaks. But Amazon estimates
that its investment in the city
will add $10 billion in incremental tax
revenues over the next 20 years.
Stillman says he may have to outsource
work overseas to cope with
John Rizzo, chief economist for
the Long Island Association, says he
understands the concerns of the tech
community, but added that "the benefits
of having Amazon in the region
outweigh the costs."
Rents are likely to go higher in Northern
Queens. But, he says, the economy
overall will benefit from more jobs.
Paul Trapani, founder of PJT Consulting,
software and management
advisors in Plainview, says that
"overall," Amazon's presence "will
be a benefit to the region."
But like others, he worries about
recruiting and retaining workers.
"It will be more of a challenge," Trapani
says. He adds that Long Island
business leaders must engage more
with colleges and universities here to
expand engineering and technology
John Lombardo, associate vice president
for workforce and economic
development at Suffolk County Community
College's Corporate Training
Center, says the college has dozens
of engineering and technology programs,
and is ready to meet any demands
Amazon may have for young
new employees. He says once he and
other college officials understand exactly
what kind of workers Amazon
may be looking for, he will set up a
meeting with company officials.
"I think this is an interesting
opportunity for Long Island," Lombardo
says. "I'm looking at Amazon
to partner with them."
“My concerns are the salary competition
this will bring about,”
says GSE Dynamics Inc. CEO Anne Shybunko-Moore.
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