Letter: Herald, be careful what you wish for
To the editor,
Regarding the Herald's Sept. 16 editorial ("How about North Dakota, Amazon?"): Be careful what you wish for.
My family moved to Grand Forks in August. We noticed immediately just how happy everyone seems to be. I can't help but think the happiness of these people is a result of being content in the place in which they live and that the contentment may be due, in large part, to being able to afford to live here. These folks, of all ages and backgrounds, can afford all that this area has to offer. From what we have seen so far, this area has a lot offer and it seems all residents can afford, and thus enjoy, these offerings.
Hoping a large company such as Amazon would entertain the I-29 corridor for one of its headquarters could bring just as many disadvantages as advantages. I grew up in a charming California beach town that became a suburb of Silicon Valley. One of disadvantages to my home town, as a result of Silicon Valley, was the elimination of affordable housing. Those six-figure incomes you seem so excited about could result in 5,000-plus-square-foot, million- or multi-million-dollar homes that would drive up the cost of all other homes, thus making it extremely difficult for anyone with less than a six-figure income to own a home here.
Families who have lived here quite happily and comfortably for generations on middle-class incomes could find it harder to stay here. Yes, those same six-figure incomes that would drive up the cost of housing would also need to be fed, clothed, entertained, etc.
This would create jobs, right? What kind of jobs? Jobs in restaurants, movie theaters, clothing stores, etc. The only problem is that employees in these jobs will find it difficult to afford the escalating cost of housing. Then there would be an outcry of an increase in minimum wage for those service-sector employees and that would result in those same employees losing their jobs or getting work hours reduced or the closure of the businesses that employ them.
Within a few years, instead of seeing smiling faces everywhere we go, we could end up seeing scowls.
I have experienced what I have just described first hand and I wanted to paint, the (possible) other side of your picture.