Within the next 12 months, more than 1,000 people will be hired by two of the world's most-admired companies to support global clients of HP and IBM. Over the next few years, that figure could approach a total of about 4,000 new jobs in the communities of Dubuque, Iowa; Conway, Arkansas; and Rio Rancho, New Mexico. That is fabulous news, and we can all hope that a couple years from now HP and IBM will be so impressed by the work being done in those locations that they decide to open several more around the U.S.
And if they do, I hope those two great companies will practice more vigorously the transparency they strive to provide for their global clients, and offer detailed breakdowns of the tradeoffs between communities desperate for jobs and private enterprises looking to provide the highest possible services at competitive costs.
In the meantime, here's a sampling of comments from officials in Dubuque, Conway, and Rio Rancho. And while I care a whole lot more about the individuals who will be competing for these jobs than I do for the bureaucrats working the levers, it's just about impossible not to be touched by the empassioned intensity in these voices so eager to bring jobs and stability and perhaps even prosperity to their communities.
And that, I think, is why I'm a bit ambivalent about what could be viewed as unconditionally wonderful news: because at stake here is more than just some haggling over price, or the specs of a product, or the elements of a business process. No, what is at play here is the livelihood and the dignity and the desperate hopes of individuals—4,000 of them—who deserve better than to be deployed as front-line players in a game in which neither they nor we know what the real score is. Have a look for yourself:
Iowa Governor Chet Culver: "I want to welcome IBM to Iowa, and thank them for bringing these 1,300 high-quality, good-paying jobs to our state. Today's announcement is one more sign that people around the country are discovering what we have known all along — that with our highly skilled workforce, inviting business climate, and quality of life, Iowa is a great place for business."
Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe: These are "the kind of jobs that represent increased earning capacity and wages for the needs and demands of families in today's society. It represents all those obvious tangible monetary benefits and all the surrounding corollary expansions that go along with it.
Maria Haley, executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission: "It will bring high-tech, high-paying jobs to the state. And hopefully, it will bring back some of the people who left the state because they couldn't find quality jobs."
Mike Williams, deputy mayor of Rio Rancho: "I'm ecstatic. It is going to kick start the economy like nothing you would not believe. This is going to snowball the downtown area."
Congresswoman Heather Wilson, Rep-N.M., whose district includes a little of Rio Rancho: "This is a great fit. New Mexico and Rio Rancho are both leaders in technology. These are great jobs for the City of Vision and I look forward to welcoming HP to New Mexico."
"City of Vision"—I like that. May it turn out to be the whole truth.
Bob Evans is senior VP and director of
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