Amazon is set to establish a huge presence in Chicago’s south suburbs, and for many of us, the news has been met with ambivalence.
Sure, the addition of 2,000 jobs created by the construction of two robotic fulfillment centers in Matteson and Markham will make a major difference for job seekers in nearby Kankakee County and the rest of the region. Hopefully the picture will change by the time the centers open at the end of 2021, but as for now, the unemployment rate has spiked into double digits amid the economic slowdown wrought by the COVID-19 crisis.
At the same time, Amazon doesn’t exactly have the most pristine reputation in the labor world. Just type “criticism of Amazon’’ into the search bar of your computer and watch what appears. You could spend the rest of the day reading what’s there, and much of it deals with unfair treatment of employees.
There’s also the feeling among numerous small businesses of all stripes that Amazon has crushed them and other competitors through its massive global reach in the e-commerce world. At the same time, others among the same group will salute Amazon for allowing the ideal conduit to hawk their goods. The situation is a prime example of ambivalence.
Ultimately, we have to view it as a positive development with some reservations. Warts and all, Amazon is perhaps the mightiest of the Big Four technology companies, surpassing even Google, Apple and Microsoft in terms of clout. While it has been said nothing is certain but death and taxes, Amazon surely seems poised to grow even more and prosper over the long run.
With Kankakee County nearby and eager to welcome such an economic engine, that growth could eventually move further south. We are best served by welcoming Amazon to the neighborhood.