OPINION | Barry Richard: Amazon Growth is the Reason for Southcoast Rail Push
Do we here in Southeastern Massachusetts have Amazon to thank for finally bringing the commuter rail to the region? Quite possibly, yes.
Amazon is rapidly expanding its footprint in Massachusetts, and observers are suggesting the Bay State could be selected to host the company's second world headquarters. Boston Business Journal reports that Amazon may have narrowed the list of finalists to Boston and D.C.
There are currently 20 cities under consideration to host the operation. No word on when a final decision might be announced.
The Journal reports, "Amazon is already on a hiring binge in Boston, and could hire close to 5,000 workers within the Fort Point and Seaport District neighborhoods in the next few years." It adds, "The company last year confirmed plans to hire 900 workers for a Boston office at 253 Summer St., which should open this spring." The Journal says Amazon could soon hire up to 4,000 additional workers for two new offices in Boston's Seaport District.
Amazon's new headquarters is a $5 billion investment to include an 8 million square foot facility that could mean as many as 50,000 good paying jobs. Whether it’s five thousand or 50 thousand, Amazon will need to cast a wide net to fill all of those positions. This is great news for New Bedford, which happens to have a good number of folks in need of those jobs.
Rob Mellion, the longtime President and CEO of The Fall River Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry who now represents the Massachusetts Package Store Association, suggests that the rapid expansion of Amazon in Boston may have been the motivation for the Baker Administration's sudden decision to fast-track the South Coast Rail Project. Transportation and infrastructure are important aspects of attracting business investment, but so is a solid workforce and a means to transport those workers.
Mellion tells me, "Many upgrades are underway statewide that connect to Boston." He says the timing of all of this may not be coincidental, "Nothing in Massachusetts happens without intent." Mellion adds, "Boston needs the New Bedford-Fall River line now."
Do you believe that Amazon's rapid expansion is behind the decision to fast-track the South Coast Rail Project, and will it work for New Bedford?
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.