Amazon opens its new Salt Lake City center — and it is loaded with robots – Salt Lake Tribune

Amazon opens its new Salt Lake City center — and it is loaded with robots - Salt Lake Tribune
Meet Utahs homeless: Austins story of addiction and loss
After attending a grand opening for the center at 777 N. 5600 West, Herbert and others toured the building and saw displays of a host of new automation technologies that nearly 1,500 full-time Amazon employees will eventually use to fulfill customer orders for the Seattle-based online shopping giant.

Employees will pick, pack and ship customer items such as books and electronics from the facility. Amazon said those new jobs will earn competitive wages and a comprehensive package of benefits.

Mike Taylor, general manager of the fulfillment center, said the new building reflected the companys commitment to long-term investment in the Salt Lake City area.

And in officially welcoming Amazon to Utah, Herbert predicted the companys investment in the citys northwest quadrant would be a significant driver for our economy and help diversify our business climate.

Utah elected officials and media members got a tour Wednesday of the 855,000-square-foot facility just west of the Salt Lake City International Airport. While operations began there last August, an Amazon official said the fulfillment center has now reached its full staffing of over 1,500 employees and is in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Empower SLC program to help communities increase energy efficiency, decrease air pollution

Editors note: For the next four weeks, KSL.coms Homeless series will feature four individuals experiencing homelessness in the Salt Lake Valley. This is Austins story.

“We want this to be a model where community organizations work with other community organizations that directly serve community members and bring information and actions directly to them across Salt Lake City and across the valley really. This is more of a large-scale pilot, and we hope to see it expand significantly, Emerson said.

How to donate to the homeless in Salt Lake City

SALT LAKE CITY — Austin limps toward the door of the Clark Planetarium in downtown Salt Lake City as the rain beats upon the blue felt blanket wrapped around his shoulders.

The program will be funded primarily by a $200,000 investment from Salt Lake City. It will also see support from a number of local organizations including Rocky Mountain Power, Utah Clean Air Partnership and Drake Real Estate, according to Kevin Emerson, energy efficiency program director for Utah Clean Energy.

He pulls the door open and walks past a line of school children, making a beeline for the trash can. A half-eaten bag of Cheez-Its doesnt last long before hes devoured it, washing the stale crackers down with a near-empty Red Bull.

The Salt Lake City Sustainability Department and Utah Clean Energy have teamed up with the International Rescue Committee, Salt Lake County Aging & Adult Services, and YouthCity Government to create Empower SLC, a community program meant to provide renewable energy education and resources to residents.

The security guard by the front door is deep in conversation with a patron and doesnt notice Austin as he hobbles further inside. But a little boy stares at the young mans face, his eyes glancing over the matted dreadlocks and large scabs on his forehead.

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Austin grew up in Layton with his grandparents, after his mother became involved with drugs and wound up in prison, he says. He doesnt know his father at all, but he insists he had a happy, normal childhood with lots of friends. His grandparents were “good people.”

Additionally, two more new resource centers will open this summer: Catholic Community Services of Utah will run the mens and womens resource center, and Volunteers of America, Utah will operate the womens resource center, both in Salt Lake City, according to the nonprofit directing the operations of all three new facilities.

Austins grandfather was a military man who taught his grandson that some things are worth fighting for — a life lesson that may lurk behind Austins limp and the scars on his face.

That organization is scheduled to close its downtown Salt Lake City shelter by September. However, its family shelter in Midvale will remain open, and The Road Home will begin operating a new 300-bed mens resource center in South Salt Lake.

It wasnt until Austins grandfather died that Austin said his uncle convinced his grandmother to kick (him) out of the house. That was eight years ago. Hes experienced homelessness in Salt Lake ever since — in and out of shelters and hazes of addiction.

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Austin says he knows people avoid him, that sometimes theyre even scared of him. He knows he has his “crazy moments” when he walks around the streets of Salt Lake yelling and high on crystal meth.

But he wants people to know theres another side to him, too: a humbler, gentler side. Yet, he decides which side hell show those around him. He wishes others would do the same.

Though the darkness can be difficult to dispel, Austins goal is to “make it to the end of the sentence.” When asked what that means, he says it entails being “completely awake” to what he wants, then going after that goal.

Hes not quite sure what he wants yet, but he says he needs a “one liner” — essentially a motto to live his life by.

If youd like to help others like Austin experiencing homelessness in Utah, contact your local homeless shelter to find out how you can donate or volunteer.

Posted in Salt Lake City