Tom Smart, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce honored two men Wednesday who turned their success in business into an opportunity to serve Utah's community and small businesses, earning the Giant in Our City Award, called the most prestigious business award in the state.
Both Harris Simmons, president and CEO of Zions Bancorporation, and Scott Anderson, president and CEO of Zions First National Bank, are natives of Salt Lake City. Community members in a dedicatory video called Simmons and Anderson a powerful team committed to supporting small businesses in the area.
Simmons and Anderson were quick to turn the spotlight back to one another when their moment came to address the audience.
"I've never known anyone as committed to this city and this state as Scott Anderson," Simmons said.
"(Harris) is facilitating progress on a much grander scale, using his influence to give back to society and to our communities," Anderson responded.
The festive evening included congratulatory remarks by Elder L. Tom Perry, member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, as well as a performance by members of the Utah Symphony and cowboy poetry by Waddie Mitchell and.
Elder Perry reminisced about working with both men during his time on Zions Bank's board.
"I could not get a reading on him," Elder Perry said of his initial encounters with Simmons, drawing a chuckle from the crowded ballroom. "He attended the board meetings, didn't say very much."
When Simmons stepped in as CEO, Elder Perry said he learned that Simmons had remained quiet in order to learn from his father.
Those lessons have served him well: "It's no secret that the past five years have been more than a little challenging for the economy and the banking industry," Simmons said. "I would like to hope this is also a reminder of the important role we in our industry can play in helping things to go right"
A dedicated fan of the arts, Simmons played a key role in the development of the zoo, arts and parks tax passed by voters in 1996 as way to generate consistent funding for local cultural and recreational endeavors.
Elder Perry was among many to applaud Anderson as a man who "never says no to the chance to serve in the community." When a visitor to Utah asked why there were so many men named Scott Anderson working in the community, Elder Perry said he surprised him by explaining they were all the same man.
But Anderson reflected that praise on others, turning to those who volunteer in the arts, education, environment and noting, "Your fingerprints and your influence are everywhere. I see what you have accomplished through what (Gov. Gary Herbert) calls 'unprecedented partnerships' … We stand on your shoulders."
Anderson has helped Utah's oldest local financial institution become the top provider of small business loans in the state for the past 19 years, also taking the bank into Idaho.
When average salaries in Utah dipped below the national average in 2004, Anderson helped lobby the 2006 state Legislature in support of USTAR, the Utah Science, Technology and Research initiative, which funds education and facilities for Utah's higher education.
For 43 years the Giant in our City Award has recognized public service and professional achievement. Previous recipients have included Mitt Romney in 2002, Larry H. Miller in 2007 and Kem Gardner, chairman of KC Gardner real estate company in 2012. This is the fourth time the award has been given to two individuals in the same year.
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