The Pros and Cons of Amazon HQ2 for Denver’s nonprofits

February 22, 2018

As Denver and 19 other cities throughout North America wait to hear from Amazon about where their second headquarters, or “HQ2” will be located, we at ZIM wanted to dive into the pros and cons of HQ2 for Denver’s nonprofit community.

 

Pros:

  1. Creating 50,000 new jobs—with an average salary of $100,000—could create 50,000 new potential donors. Development professionals have the opportunity to connect these prospects with their causes.

  2. Having a philanthropic company headquartered in our city can be great for corporate philanthropy.

  3. According to Newark’s estimate, there are 110,000+ potential new jobs created by this expansion, many of which could be performed by nonprofit clients—both at Amazon itself and in tangential occupations. The 50,000 Amazon professionals will need childcare/afterschool programs for their children, healthcare for themselves and their families, arts and culture programs, spiritual leaders, and everyone else that families rely on to live their daily lives.

  4. By winning HQ2, Denver will gain a reputation of being the coolest city in the country, therefore continuing to attract the best and brightest talent from around the country. These individuals can contribute to our nonprofit community as well.

Cons:

  1. Metro Denver housing prices will continue to climb, making Denver too expensive for nonprofit clients—and employees. Some ZIM clients have recently reported low-income clients spending 70-90% of their income on housing in 2017. The affordability crisis will only get worse with HQ2 in Denver. In a November Nonprofit Quarterly article, John Burbank, the Executive Director of the Economic Opportunity Institute, a Seattle-based, left-of-center think tank, writes that, “While [Amazon] has led to an economic boom in Seattle, that boom has primarily benefited tech workers at the top and left everyone else with higher rents, higher property taxes, traffic congestion and a bitter taste in our mouths.”

  2. Because of increased housing costs, traditionally marginalized populations—that is, many of the people nonprofits currently serve—will be affected negatively by HQ2. In the same Nonprofit Quarterly article, Seattle Mayor Tim Burgess is quoted, saying

“I would say to those other cities, it’s great if you win Amazon’s second headquarters, but make sure you’re prepared to address the downsides of that. And the downsides are going to affect people who are traditionally marginalized anyway—or already—in our system. People living in poverty, people of color, immigrants and refugees. There are specific things you can do to help mitigate that. Maybe you can’t eliminate it in, just getting one company to come to your city, but you can start doing things to mitigate against that. I wish we had done that sooner in Seattle.”

 

3. Colorado’s natural beauty will suffer. Many of us live here because we love going outside. We are already seeing visitation limited on some of Colorado’s premier natural landscapes, such as the proposed plan for Hanging Lake of 615 hikers/day Colorado’s parks, hiking trails, and vistas will be even more crowded and our environment could suffer.

 

What do you think? Are there pros and cons that we missed? Please post below as we’d love to hear from you!

 

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