An Amazon distribution center bringing several hundred new jobs to the area when it opens later this year in Lancaster is very welcome news.

Amazon joins other businesses that have taken an interest in the local workforce. Among the announcements involving promises of several hundred new jobs: Tesla’s SolarCity factory and spinoffs at South Buffalo’s RiverBend site, and more recently Strategic Financial Solutions in Amherst. They would join Citi in Cheektowaga and Geico in Getzville in employing a significant number of workers.

The new Amazon distribution center will be the company’s second in New York State. The Seattle-based firm has said that it will launch a “sortation center” in a vacant warehouse at 4201 Walden Ave. It has a similar “Prime Now” hub in Manhattan.

This will not be a “fulfillment center,” where employees select items from the inventory to fill customer orders, pack and ship them. Employees at the sortation centers use ZIP codes to further sort packages coming from fulfillment centers in an effort to speed up regular delivery, according to a company spokeswoman.
Businesses have taken a good look at the workforce around here and decided this is where they want to be. While welcoming Amazon, it should be noted that the new jobs don’t come close to replacing the thousands of retail jobs lost by brick-and-mortar stores unable to compete with online retailing.

American companies are at a turning point as they try to reconcile old ways of doing business with technology-driven innovation. Sears, Macy’s and so many other companies are struggling to adjust. Some will find a way to adapt and succeed.

Whether old-style business or high-tech innovator, Western New York’s workforce needs to be ready to answer the call.

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