Karl Malden is famous for saying, "American Express Travelers Cheques - don't leave home without them."

Gov. Norm Bangerter implied Friday, "American Express: Utah wouldn't be home without them."Bangerter and dozens of other state and county politicians and business leaders gathered at the Little America Hotel to honor American Express for "outstanding corporate citizenship and contributions to the state of Utah."

American Express began operations in Salt Lake County in 1982 and initially employed about 1,200 people. More than 2,000 Utahns now work at the Utah facility.

The state has been so impressed with American Express that it sponsored a special breakfast to honor the company. "I have rarely seen a company so committed to service; service to customers, service to employees and service to the community," Bangerter said.

Bangerter noted that American Express has received great productivity from Utah workers and in return has offered Utahns satisfying careers. Utah's American Express facility has a turnover rate less than half that of the average for financial institutions.

The governor also honored Jim Welch, director of Utah operations for the company, for the "personal and corporate dedication to community service."

Welch serves as Chairman of the Board of Holy Cross Hospital, and has been actively involved with the United Way, Utah Symphony, Guadalupe Schools, Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce and many other cultural, civic and business groups.