The Emperor Wears No Clothes


Last year, we published a piece entitled “Amazon HQ in South Bend? Hold Up.” It opposed the idea of “convincing” Amazon to come to South Bend, returning to the simple idea that South Bend does not need a savior.

This week, the charade that was Amazon’s “2nd headquarters” search drew to a close. It was a painful slap in the face to several large Rust Belt cities who had put a lot of effort into courting Jeff Bezos and company; many of those municipalities had given large amounts of data to Amazon regarding citizens, demographics, and future economic development, which will now inevitably be used by Amazon to leverage further advantages in those markets.

Amazon, of course, went where it was always going to go: New York City and Washington D.C. where it can stay close to the halls of power it will increasingly depend upon to stay competitive, and where its magical fairy wand of a “$5 billion investment” will inevitably be used to increase its own market share to the maximum.

Here in South Bend, though, it serves as a good reminder: Amazon and the other tech giants should not, nay, deserve not come to South Bend. Their values are not South Bend’s values. They exist not to revitalize, but to completely take over, pushing the idea that the bottom line is all that matters. Want to see everything that is good and beautiful about South Bend disappear overnight? Bring in an Amazon, or a Google, or an Apple.

Now, there is a valid question asked by many who had initially suggested convincing Amazon to come to South Bend: how do we attract young people? For one thing, there are many very good people working very hard to create innovative and interesting jobs here in the city, but we here at West.SB believe that pitching South Bend soley on jobs and entertainment will never work out. There are always brighter lights elsewhere.

No, tell young people that if they’re tired of not having the freedom to create and produce what they want, if they’re tired of being lonely, if they’re tired of wanting deep relationships and a community that cares for them, then come to South Bend, because we do all that stuff better than anybody.

Robert Ramsey is a resident of South Bend and recent guest on South Bend on Purpose who intentionally moved here in an effort to “get back to the Midwest.”