TOOELE — A new Deseret Industries store and Employment Resource Center, quadruple the size of the previous facility, opened here Thursday.
Bishop H. David Burton, presiding bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said Deseret Industries is one of several pillars of the church's welfare system and strives to reach out to the community.
"The only reason for this facility is to generate funds to help others gain (job) skills," he said. Bishop Burton offered the dedicatory prayer for the new facility, 1575 N. 30 West, during a program Wednesday evening.
Tooele County Commissioner Gene White said the county currently has a 9 percent unemployment rate — the state's highest — and so the new facility is a great addition to the community.
He said 1,400 people applied for 48 government jobs recently advertised in the county and another 62 lined up for a single Tooele County opening.
"These are challenging times," he said. "This will help us."
Bishop Burton described the new facility as not elaborate, but comfortable and adequate. It will employ a full-time staff of five, plus 45 trainees — those with disabilities and others in need of vocational rehabilitation.
Nearly a third of trainees in the Deseret Industries system are not members of the LDS Church. Trainees' salaries, programs and equipment are paid for by the revenues generated by the sale of goods donated to the store.
"The mission of the Deseret Industries is to help people get on their own feet," Brent Rose, president of the Stansbury Park Stake in Tooele, said. "We are privileged to have such a facility."
Located 33 miles from Salt Lake City, just north of Wal-Mart and Applebees Restaurant, the 35,000-square-foot facility replaces the previous 9,000-square-foot building at the other side of town.
Curtis Ravsten, managing director of Deseret Industries, said the previous facility — a leased, 60-year-old structure — had become inadequate and too small.
Bishop Burton said his mother moved to Tooele at age 12, so he has a connection to the community. He also said the first-ever Deseret Industries store opened on Aug. 11, 1938, the same year as his own birth.
Today, he said, there are 46 D.I. stores in seven Western states, and their supporting operations generate some $60 million in annual revenue for the church's welfare system — all used to help others.
He described the adjacent 1,800-square-foot employment center as a marvelous facility that will also assist others in helping themselves.
The facility sports the usual look in a Deseret Industries store these days — a bright and appealing sales floor that resembles a typical 21st-century department store. It also includes a covered drive-through donation area, where donors are assisted by uniformed attendants, and a large outdoor sales area. It has a new humanitarian room where volunteers can make items for humanitarian distribution.
The new store will be open Monday through Saturday at 10 a.m. For more information on the new Tooele Deseret Industries, call 435-882-7100.