PSL QVC Call Center to Close
Port St Lucie seems to be the nexus of companies gone and companies going. Yesterday QVC landed yet another punch to the solar plexus of St Lucie announcing it will close its call center in St Lucie West, and about 800 people will lose their jobs. This time it has nothing to do with a failing company but the creative destruction of the free markets and innovation. QVC is a brand known to most if not all. For the few who don’t get out from under the rock too often QVC is a home shopping channel. QVC is a 24 hour commercial of clothes, jewelry, electronics, home goods and even food. It is the ultimate shopping experience while sitting on your couch in the comfort of your home. Pick up the phone and call in and your products are delivered to your door. Except that now fewer and fewer people are using the phone to talk anymore. QVC’s demographics have changed. More of us are using our phones not to make calls but to access the internet, text and use apps. QVC can sell more product faster through the innovation of automated systems than they can with humans on the end of a phone. Sure there will still be those that do not have computers or smart phones; do not feel comfortable with making financial transactions over the internet; and those who just need to ask someone they have never met and cannot see if they would look better in the green or the blue. But those numbers are dwindling and will continue to fall. While not surprising this comes as a shock all the same. Especially to the 800 or so affected. The expected closing is to be sometime early next year. Most will be kept on through the end of the year as QVC’s holiday rush starts in August. Enough for the news, today’s blog is not to parrot what you can read in the local paper. Here’s the story. In 2000, about 20% of all jobs in America were manufacturing or tied to manufacturing. Today, about 5% of all jobs in America are manufacturing jobs. How do we lose 1% of manufacturing jobs per year? Many reasons but Americans see manufacturing as dirty, not environmentally friendly. The EPA a group of unelected bureaucrats get to write reams and reams of codes and regulations without regard to the cost of compliance. In the rooms where these laws are written there is no one there to stand up for the economic engine that funds the tax money the EPA runs on. In a CNET 2010 interview the CEO of Intel, Paul Otellini, said, “I can tell you definitively that it costs $1 billion more per factory for me to build, equip, and operate a semiconductor manufacturing facility in the United States.” He continued to state that 90% of the additional cost was not labor but having to comply with taxes and regulations that other countries do not apply. The CNET article also quotes Cypress Semiconductor CEO T.J. Rodgers, saying the problem is not higher U.S. wages but antibusiness laws: “The killer factor in California for a manufacturer to create, say, a thousand blue-collar jobs is a hostile government that doesn’t want you there and demonstrates it in thousands of ways.” So for everyone who says that companies flee our shores for cheap labor there you have two very successful CEO’s who paint a distinctly different picture. If you’re against the EPA you must want dirty air and dirty water, you want babies eating lead paint chips. At least that is the way the environmental left portrays you in the media. There must be a happy medium. Florida has gained over 800,000 jobs since December 2010. This number is more than what Gov. Rick Scott promised and ahead of schedule. So where are the jobs for St. Lucie? Why is St. Lucie is still near the top in the state with an unemployment rate at 6.0%? I went to look at the Economic Development Council of St. Lucie’s (EDC) website to see why our unemployment rate is above 6.0%. I wanted to see some of the recent success stories. Under Accomplishments and Initiatives EDC has a new logo, and that they are starting a new Marketing Taskforce. Really? Is that it? The EDC has been at this for years. Lots of money in, little return on OUR investment. The EDC is a non-profit, maybe it should be forced to turn into a for-profit, then it will have to either produce or die. In today’s TCPalm right under the QVC article is a story about Midway Rd. being turned into a industrial corridor. Fort Pierce Mayor, Linda Hudson, said, “I would be supportive because it would increase our tax revenue. But I’m not blindly saying that I would support anything they build.” The article mentioned no follow up questions to Mayor Hudson. I would have asked about Ft. Pierce’s unemployment rate. I would have asked about the value of jobs, any jobs, to all of Hudson’s constituents at or below the poverty line. I would have asked Hudson if she knew what the promise of jobs means to graduation rates, or to a reduction to the crime rate. Mayor Hudson has a job, too many of her constituents do not. We can change our stars but we first must change our view to see them.