By Ashwani Jain
Amazon is looking for a second U.S. headquarters. The company should look no further than Montgomery County.
This would not only be a huge job creator for our county’s residents — as Amazon’s site could house as many as 50,000 employees — but would also be a win for the internet giant.
Montgomery County is the county of the future and is the model of what other communities should look like. We are the face of America and one of the most diverse counties in the United States. We have some of the best public schools in the nation, have a hugely talented labor pool, and provide the greatest opportunities for our business leaders and their families.
But our goal should be to continue creating an ecosystem that accelerates our residents into the jobs of tomorrow. To accomplish this, we need to create and implement more business-friendly policies. Specifically, we need to:
1) Make Universal Pre-K a reality for our children – which helps close the opportunity gap our students are facing and provides businesses with a larger skilled workforce to increase their productivity and profitability.
2) Raise the minimum wage to a living wage of $15 an hour – which fosters greater economic security for our families, saves taxpayers money that would otherwise go towards subsidies, and increases our competitiveness with cities like D.C., Santa Fe and San Francisco (and even Amazon’s current headquarters city of Seattle), which have already raised their wages.
3) Declare Montgomery County an official sanctuary county – which makes our communities safer and more inclusive, while also keeping critical funding to our schools and government services intact.
4) Provide affordable housing near places of employment and increasing access to high-quality transit like the Purple Line and the Bus Rapid Transit system – which expands a business’s access to the labor pool and ensures employees keep their disposable income within the business’s geographic area.
After all, great businesses are made by great employees who feel invested in the company. That’s why companies like Starbucks pay for its employees to attend college. That’s why companies like McDonald’s, Target, Ikea and Costco have increased their minimum wages. That’s why companies like Google and Netflix guarantee paid paternity leave.
And that’s why my parents eventually moved to Montgomery County to start their own business.
My parents immigrated to the United States with limited resources. But it was because of the Montgomery County government understanding the need to provide a decent living wage, invest in education and create an inclusive and safe community with access to affordable housing and quality transit that they were eventually able to become successful small business owners.
Luckily, my parents’ story is not unique — it is one example in a million that represents the very best of what Montgomery County has to offer.
Here, in Montgomery County, we understand how to invest in your employees to ensure you have less costly employee turnover and increased employee retention, satisfaction, productivity, creativity and loyalty. In turn, you will be able to create greater financial sustainability and profitability in the long-term.
But there is still so much more we can and need to accomplish. Not only to better our community, but also to increase our competitiveness in terms of attracting companies like Amazon.
Ashwani Jain, who held multiple roles in the Obama administration, is a Democratic candidate for an at-large seat on the Montgomery County Council.