But only half of Amazon’s new HQ is going to Northern Virginia. The other half is headed to the Big Apple — specifically, Long Island City, currently a conurbation of a little over 20,000 people on the far western end of Long Island, just across the East River from Manhattan. There is, of course, no shortage of elite business schools in the immediate area — among them Cornell, which just last year opened its new Cornell Tech complex on New York City’s Roosevelt Island, smack dab between Manhattan and Amazon’s announced new site.
Only a little farther away, J.P. Eggers, vice dean of MBA and graduate programs and an associate professor of management and organizations at NYU Stern School of Business, says Amazon’s arrival in the big city means a host of opportunities for business schools as well as business in general, particularly the already-booming tech sector.
“There’s an enormous opportunity to continue the growth of the technology sector in New York City that has been booming so much the last five years,” Eggers tells P&Q, “to the extent that New York is seen as the only real competitor to Silicon Valley in the U.S. at this point in time in terms of scale, size, and growth rate. It’s a great place to be, given that that’s not really where we were at all 10 to 15 years ago.”
Eggers says the startup community in New York will be especially energized, “because of the different nature of the startup community in New York in general, which has been so much built around the relationships between small companies and larger existing companies as partners and cooperators — much more than the typical West Coast mentality of competition between the old-school industries and the large companies and the smaller ones. I would see Amazon as a fantastic partner for all of the great startups that are coming up in the New York City area. It’s another continued opportunity for the New York tech scene.
“Obviously in terms of direct benefits, the job creation is going to be very significant in this space,” Eggers continues, “and this will fuel migration from all over the country and all over the world to New York City, as one of the true hubs of the global tech industry. And that will be a fantastic thing for the city.”
CHALLENGES FOR THE CITY, LOTS OF UPSIDE FOR THE B-SCHOOLS
Eggers acknowledges widely aired concerns about housing prices and the expected strain on infrastructure. “These are all legitimate concerns,” he says, “that any growing and fast-paced city has been dealing with for a long time, and I hope the government is able to figure out potential solutions to help mitigate the problems that are certainly going to occur.” But, he adds, that is all part of the “process of forward-moving development for a city.”
“This is the kind of thing that New York City has done on an ongoing basis — whether it’s been different periods of time or there’s been enormously fast growth rates, the city has been able to find ways to manage the adjustment. In terms of access to talent, in terms of access to airports and transportation options, quality of living for your employees, you’d be hard-pressed to think of a better place to come than this. There are always problems that are going to occur anywhere where you see this kind of growth, but one of the nice things that is true both for New York and Washington, D.C. is the fact that the infrastructure drain will be a little offset by the fact that we are both places that are relatively heavily public transportation-run. Just imagine in cities where everyone drives, this kind of rapid growth could really cripple infrastructure. This is an opportunity to justify continued reinvestment in the infrastructure to help support the growth that Amazon is going to need in New York City.”
What, specifically, will Amazon-New York mean for Stern, where 16.5% of MBAs go into tech, and other B-schools? Eggers is bullish. The school already has been the No. 1 employer for MBAs from Stern’s full-time MBA program for the last two years, and currently run many events through the school, including innovation competitions, skill development workshops, and consulting projects.
“Obviously we are excited about this opportunity and the fact that the door to more opportunities at Amazon — especially opportunities that would be local here in New York — is a real potential option for our MBA students,” he says. “This obviously builds on the fact that Amazon has been enormously helpful to the school and committed to this relationship for a number of years. We certainly hope to be able to continue that relationship.”
NO ‘CONSOLATION PRIZE’
There’s excitement in Nashville, too, where the good news of Amazon’s commitment of 5,000 jobs for an operations hub has gone somewhat under the radar. Which is fine with Eric Johnson, dean of the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University. “Nashville was considered to be among the cities that had been ‘passed over’ for the new Amazon HQ, and then to have us end up with the Eastern Operations Hub or whatever they’re calling it is very cool,” Johnson tells P&Q. “It’s 5,000 jobs in our city, and that will make Amazon a top-10 employer — that’s nothing to sneeze at!”
In fact, it will be one of the biggest job-producing moves in Nashville history — and may be just about all the new jobs the city can handle at the moment, Johnson says. “Someone said we got the bait-and-switch because we didn’t get the 50,000 jobs, we just got the 5,000, but that’s kind of like the dog-catches-car story,” he says, laughing. “It would probably have destroyed Nashville as we know it to get the Amazon HQ!”
At Owen, 13% of the 2018 graduating class went into tech. Amazon is the biggest employer of 2018 MBAs, having hired seven, but more than a third of the graduating class stayed to work in Nashville. In the future, Johnson says, some may get to do both.
“We ‘re super excited,” he says, citing the same-day news of a 600-job Ernst & Young tech center moving to Music Row. “It was one of the greatest days ever, and both were great news for Vanderbilt Owen.
“Amazon has been our top employer for several years running, and this will just give fuel to that. The great thing is that this will grow the overall tech pie significantly for our city, because it gives people more confidence to have their careers here. If things don’t work out at HCA or whatever, I’ll go over to Amazon. It’s a good thing.”