SALT LAKE CITY — Hundreds of leaders from around the state and representing Utah's business, academic and government sectors joined the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce to celebrate the group's 130th anniversary and recognize outstanding contributions at an awards luncheon on Thursday at the City Creek Marriott.
Chamber President and CEO Lane Beattie noted it's the 15th version of the annual event during his time with the organization, whose roots are older than Utah's statehood.
"It really is an exciting time," Beattie said. "Being around for 130 years is almost unbelievable, and the chamber has never been as powerful and impactful as it is today.
"We're the largest statewide business association working to solve problems for our business community not just for today, but for the collective, future prosperity of the entire state," he said.
Beattie went on to highlight the areas of focus for the group: working to address air quality issues; advocating for more robust education funding; and helping to solve a dilemma wherein businesses in the state's high-population areas are hard-pressed to fill open positions while workers in rural Utah are struggling to find work.
"In our quarterly survey, an overwhelming majority of businesses reported that finding workers is the single-biggest factor impeding their growth," Beattie said. "We need to do a better job."
Outgoing chamber board of governors Chairman Keith B. McMullin, president and CEO of Deseret Management Corp., recognized the organization's talented staff as an exemplary group who operated from a position of dedication to the chamber's mission statement. He also acknowledged how chamber members worked together on behalf of the greater business community in overcoming obstacles and crafting solutions.
"In this chamber, I have never witnessed narrow self-interest or unscrupulous behavior," McMullin said. "Rather, I have seen corporate leaders step up to champion and protect others’ interests, businesses strive for long-term community gains rather than short-term corporate wins.
"And all that I have observed has been done with integrity and poise," he said.
McMullin also noted the secret to the organization's high level of success as one grounded in a respectful and principled approach to reaching its goals.
"On different occasions, you have heard me say that correct principles are the bedrock upon which sound, successful causes are built," McMullin said. "This has been affirmed many times as I have watched the chamber’s successes and Utah’s progress provide proof positive that this is true.
"Free enterprise, corporate citizenship and community service are hallmarks of chamber membership."
The incoming board chairman, Wilford Clyde, chairman and CEO of Clyde Companies and the mayor of Springville, said he'd been participating in work throughout the summer on an updated "blueprint" for chamber projects in the coming year and would work to grow the organization's partnerships and accomplishments moving forward.
"My vision for the future is that we continue to build on this collaboration and build on the legacy of this great organization," Clyde said.
The chamber also awarded numerous companies and individuals for their work in the past year. They included Rio Tinto Kennecott, Corporate Partner of the Year; Kaddas Enterprises Inc., Small Business of the Year; UCAIR, Community Partner of the Year; and Tom Guinney of Gastronomy received the President's Award for Excellence.
Chamber Champions included Andrew Croshaw, Leavitt Partners; Jim Crowder, Enterprise Holdings Inc.; Brian Garrett, Zions Bank; Brent Lange, Hale Center Theatre; Natalie Peay, WEBB; and Jody Williams, Holland and Hart LLP.