SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake Chamber on Tuesday recognized business leaders and chamber volunteers who offered support during "a year no one could have seen coming."
The chamber's 134th annual meeting, held at the Little America Hotel, was themed "Future in Focus," with images of a camera lens. After an unpredictable, difficult year, the awards were given to leaders who bolstered the business community in the middle of several simultaneous and ongoing crises, took stock and looked forward, said Derek Miller, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber and Downtown Alliance.
"Overcoming the challenges of the past year have taken the best of our talents and coming together to solve problems to ensure we fully emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever," Miller said. "The leadership exemplified by our outgoing Chair Craig Wagstaff, to our mission-driven chamber team, and allies across the community have inspired many to dig deeper and give more.
"The important work the chamber performs to advocate for maintaining our friendly business climate, building capacity in our community and connecting people for the greater good has stood the test of time. I am honored we get to celebrate these leaders of change as they helped us all navigate uncharted territory with steady hands."
Craig Wagstaff, senior vice president and general manager–Western Division at Gas Distribution of Dominion Energy, was honored as the outgoing chairman for his service in that capacity since July 2020. Gary B. Porter, senior vice president at Deseret Management Corp., is the incoming chairman of the chamber's board of governors.
Awardees during the meeting reflected on many of the major issues and unique challenges Utah people and businesses faced in the past year during the COVID-19 pandemic, notably in the health, insurance, housing and restaurant industries. Both the Utah Department of Health and Rich Saunders, its first chief innovation officer, were named Community Partners of the Year, for their efforts to keep the public safe and healthy during the ongoing pandemic.
Other honorees were organizations and people who promoted economic recovery during times of civil unrest, economic recession and unemployment challenges. The President's Award for Excellence went to the Utah Black Chamber for doubling its membership base, including from many large corporations and business resources, during a time of civil unrest and is planning on rolling out a new flagship, the Black Success Center.
Ben Kolendar, of Salt Lake City Corp., and Nate McDonald, of the Utah Department of Workforce Services, were each honored as Chamber Champions, for their work supporting residents and businesses.
"The chamber recognizes that many of its accomplishments would not be possible without the business leaders of Utah," the Chamber said in a press release Tuesday.