Rantz: Coronavirus scare foreshadows impacts if Amazon leaves Seattle

Mar 10, 2020, 9:23 PM | Updated: Mar 11, 2020, 5:06 am
Sawant, Amazon tax, coronavirus, Seattle, durkan...
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson,File)
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson,File)

The coronavirus has had a direct — and indirect — impact on Seattle businesses. It should be seen as foreshadowing what would happen to Seattle if Amazon is pushed away by a greedy, anti-business city.

Amazon announced they’re allowing a significant portion of their workforce to telecommute to help stem the tide of the coronavirus. Many workers are using this option, staying at home to code and answer emails, rather than potentially expose themselves to the virus. As a consequence, South Lake Union and downtown Seattle has seen significantly less foot traffic. That has equated to businesses suffering.

The hurt

Without the thousands of Amazon employees that keep South Lake Union and the downtown core bustling, restaurants and coffee shops have suffered.

General Porpoise’s Amazon Spheres location has been closed until further notice. A number of Tom Douglas restaurants that surround Amazon businesses have “adjusted the hours of our restaurants to correspond more accurately to the flow of customer traffic.” Other businesses are noticeably empty with one delivery driver telling me most of the coffee shops he had delivered to Monday morning “were completely empty.”

Despite being vilified as soulless and greedy by a Seattle City Council pretending Amazon has caused nothing but problems for the city, Amazon has stepped up to help the surrounding small businesses that rely on them. Amazon announced, per The Seattle Times, that it cover a month of rent “for the local small businesses that operate inside our owned buildings to help support them during this period.”

The reality

This economic hurt is temporary. But it won’t be if Amazon continues to ditch growth in Amazon for a much friendlier Bellevue.

Amazon has already started to make the move, announcing last year thousands of employees would move to their new properties in downtown Bellevue. The company is building their tallest building ever in Bellevue — not Seattle — and promises to bring with them over 15,000 more jobs.

The Seattle City Council and mayor’s office have downplayed the moves and investments.

“It’s great news for the region,” Mayor Durkan claimed of Amazon’s move to Bellevue in what must be the most transparently disingenuous statement she’s made of late.

And Seattle leaders have shown no interest in trying to keep Amazon here, despite the company shifting focus to Bellevue. Indeed, they’re doubling down on more attacks and tax increases.

Bye bye jobs

Amazon is indirectly responsible for tens of thousands of jobs in Seattle. Coffee shops, restaurants, bars, and shops have gone up and thrived directly off of Amazon employees. We see what these businesses look like without Amazonians stopping by.

What do you think will happen if Amazon stalls their growth here and starts to move existing jobs to Bellevue? We’re justifiably panicked over a short-term coronavirus economic hit. That will look like nothing if Amazon eventually grows elsewhere.

They’re not leaving overnight, though Seattle is making their decision easier each time they forward more attacks and taxes. And in the long term, if they leave, Seattle will need to bring in businesses to make up for the lost Amazonians to maintain our bustling economy. Which big business will want to make that big jump into an expensive city that demonizes businesses? Expedia made the move and they ended up laying off employees.

Amazon moving to Bellevue shows you can have a major business, close to Seattle (which is important when recruiting out of state workers), without any of the anti-business, Socialist baggage. And instead of rushing to get to Seattle, those businesses will look elsewhere. And our local economy won’t be anywhere near as thriving as it is now because of Seattle.

Don’t like the “ghost town” feel of Seattle right now? Well, you better step up your support for Amazon and help make it harder for them to leave.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz on Twitter.

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Rantz: Coronavirus scare foreshadows impacts if Amazon leaves Seattle