North Heights Linen Service opens: ‘It’s time we do things we’ve never done before’

Updated: Jun. 17, 2021 at 7:09 AM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Now that construction on the long-awaited North Heights Linen Service is complete, management is ready to offer employment in a neighborhood that hasn’t seen a new industry in more than a generation.

The North Heights Linen Service is expected to clean seven million pounds of laundry each day, but the organization believes their impact goes beyond washing linens.

“When you see the condition of North Heights, it’s time we do things we’ve never done before,” said Melodie Graves, president of the North heights Advisory Association. “That’s where the linen service comes in.”

The North Heights Linen Service is the only facility in the Texas Panhandle certified to accommodate healthcare linens.

With the creation of this facility, area hospitals no longer have to ship dirty laundry to Oklahoma or New Mexico, keeping money and jobs in the panhandle.

“There are no other healthcare laundry services within reasonable distance. The other facilities that can process healthcare linens are in Albuquerque, Oklahoma City..” said Richard Engler, North Heights Linen Service general manager. “Not only were the linens going out of town but the jobs and the money too. Building a facility here not only allows the money to stay in our community, but provides more jobs here.”

Hiring mostly within North Heights, the service will bring jobs to the community and serve as a model for the revitalization of the neighborhood.

“I hope more businesses see how successful it’s going to be and start wanting to be in that neighborhood,” said Graves. “The overall goal is that we empower our residents, we educate our residents, and we show them how to own their own homes and be their own business owners. That’s how we change the community.”

The facility has also partnered with Amarillo College, who will teach free financial literacy courses.

Engler says he is focused on hiring people who deserve a second chance.

“We want to focus on those people who have had a difficult time finding employment specifically second chance people,” he explained. “If they’re not working, it’s bad for the whole community and we want to be sure we can offer them that opportunity.”

The facility will hire 30 full time workers and plans to have 100 employees within two years.

If qualified, every employee will have a chance to invest in the company and vote on company decisions.

To qualify, the employee must have completed one year of employment, financial literacy training and be voted in by colleagues.

The North Heights Advisory Association hopes this allows residents to build wealth beyond a standard income.

“That gives them empowerment to do other things,” said Graves. “What we’re hoping is those people will live in the community, build houses in the community, and what you’ll see is a community that’s kind of dilapidated right now start to take steps towards being a viable part of Amarillo. That restores hope for me, and I hope that does for the rest of the residents as well.”

The 30,000 sq ft. facility also features a break room, office space and a classroom.

The project is a collaboration between Saint Anthony Legacy Redevelopment Corporation, the North Heights Advisory Association, the Amarillo Area Foundation and other local investors.

The North Heights Linen Service is hosting an open house tonight at the facility from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony at 4:30 p.m. with refreshments.

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