Know Your Audience
“Know your audience” is the hallmark of effective communication.
During the local elections last year, the byword was “Mega-Warehouses are evil. There is too much truck traffic on our roads now. What used to be beautiful cornfields have become ugly warehouses and massive paved parking lots. Elect me and the Lehigh Valley will return to the bucolic place where you grew up.”
Voters loved it. Anti-Warehouse candidates swept into office.
There won’t be local elections for another four years and campaign promises are easily forgotten. Last week, the Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce heard that 27 million (!) square feet of new warehouses will be approved by the end of 2022 in Northampton and Lehigh counties. This nearly matches the 27.3 million SF of warehousing built over the past five years.
Despite all those campaign promises, despite the fact that no new roads are being built to accommodate all that new truck traffic, despite the fact that warehouse areas flood due to stormwater runoff every time it rains more than a half-inch, the Lehigh Valley is duplicating five years worth of warehouse space in one year.
The Chamber of Commerce loved it. Lehigh Valley residents stuck behind a tractor-trailer on Route 22 or I-78 later this year may not. So much for campaign promises.
How will all those new warehouses be staffed? Warehouse work is strenuous and pays poorly. Those socialists in neighboring NY, NJ, MD, and DE may have raised their minimum wage to $12 or $15 per hour, but here in the Keystone State, we are sticking with the Federal Minimum of $7.25/hour or a handsome $290/week. Since apartment rentals begin at $1,000 per month, this could pose a problem.
The Chamber got even more good news regarding warehouse staffing. Latino population in the Lehigh Valley increased by 46% over the past decade. Latinos can staff our warehouses! They won’t unionize or complain. If they do, we’ll turn them in to Immigration.
“Know your audience.” When that audience is the Chamber of Commerce, lots of new warehouse space and a minority workforce to staff it is good news indeed.
By Ed Dufton