In the month since the Dick’s Sporting Goods distribution center opened in Conklin, it’s given a bump to employment in the Southern Tier.
Dick’s plans to hire about 450 people for the facility, which would parallel the increase in hiring from the recent expansion at Tioga Downs.
The distribution center is largely considered part of the “general warehousing and distribution” segment of the economy, much like the Best Buy Distribution Center in Tioga County and the CVS Distribution Center in Chemung County.
Christian Harris is a labor market analyst in the Southern Tier with the New York State Department of Labor. He said this has been a relatively small part of the economy, but that’s changing, especially as manufacturing has declined in the region.
“The area is attractive for that type of business because of our large stock of blue collar type employment,” Harris said. “As our manufacturing base shrinks those employees are a good fit just based on the hands-on activities in those environments.”
The Utica area and the Hudson Valley are also seeing an uptick in the warehousing industry segment, said Harris.
The center will have to deal with vendors and suppliers. That means for every two people Dicks hires directly, it will create one job indirectly, according to the New York Department of Labor.
Roughly $35 million could be infused into the local economy every year.
“And then, obviously, they’re going to be paying income taxes so all levels of government will feel that as well.” said Harris. “Local probably being the most impacted, but state and federal coffers will increase because of the engaged workers.”
Though the skills at this job might translate well with those in the manufacturing, that industry isn’t what it used to be. It’s declined for decades and is part of the reason why the population has dropped across the Southern Tier.
“It’s a strange dilemma to have an area that hasn’t really experienced economic revival as other parts of the country have. At least as robust,” Harris said. “We do have a worker shortage in general. And that’s just a nature of the economic recovery, eventually you just run out of skilled workers that match the opportunities.”
So Dick’s is in a competition for workers with other, similar businesses. On one hand that could mean you’re just moving a worker from one job to another. Not really fixing a problem. On the other, workers have more options so companies may have to compete for them.