Fox File #89: It’s All About the Basics
A recent tour of the new Amazon Fulfillment Center in the Salt Lake City International Center greatly impressed me: 855,000 square feet under roof, with a total of 2.3 million square feet of floor space, and more than 1,500 jobs. I was struck by the magnitude of the building, its impact on the Utah economy, and the jobs created.
But are they just jobs? When you work in economic development, you risk seeing everything in terms of key performance indicators.
What the tour brought home to me were the real people working there to ensure that the 100,000 packages leaving the facility each day find their way overnight, and in many cases on the same day, for delivery to your home and mine.
I walked into the room, and was surprised to be greeted by my old elementary school classmate, Parley, a Salt Lake native who has worked for Amazon all over the country. We were both pleased by the random occurrence that would bring us together again at an Amazon facility in Salt Lake City. Parley is the inbound products facility manager for the new facility and after holding several positions for the company throughout the country, he was delighted to be able to return home to manage this facility.
Similarly, the outbound manager, though not from Utah, was able to bring his spouse, who was raised in Alpine, Utah, back to her home state.
Are they just jobs? In the conference room, the Amazon team greeted Governor Gary R. Herbert, Senator Mike Lee, Congressman Chris Stewart, State Senator Wayne Harper and other dignitaries who were there for the tour. At the event, Amazon made a sizeable contribution to the Utah Food Bank, showing the company’s commitment and engagement in the communities where they work and serve. Amazon gets Utah’s spirit of volunteerism and charitable giving.
The work that we do is not just about jobs. It is not about growth, or as some might suggest, that we have too much growth. It is about building and maintaining a dynamic economic engine that continues to evolve with – and support – the changes of our demographics, education, transportation, air quality and quality of life. We continue to seek to understand the best direction going forward as we continue to work in Utah with an enviable economy.
In the case of some native Utahns – Parley’s parents – I think we know that they couldn’t be happier to have the Amazon center here, as it brought children and grandchildren home. Sometimes I get consumed by the big jobs and cap ex numbers and metrics we track, but it was fun to be reminded that economic development deeply touches the lives of our friends and fellow community members. In other words, the basics, which come from the heart.