Salt Lake Chamber honors two city giants
Two affluential business leaders Scott Anderson, CEO of Zions Bank, and his boss, Harris Simmons, chief executive officer of Zions Bancorp are the latest recipients of the Salt Lake Chamber's Giants in Our City award.
The two bankers received the chamber's top honor Wednesday during a sold-out dinner at the Grand America Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City.
Simmons, 58, holds all three top offices chairman, president and chief executive at the $55 billion parent company of eight banks in 10 western states.
Anderson, 66, runs Zions Bank, the biggest bank in the holding company's territory. It operates in Utah and Idaho.
The award is given each year to someone whose contributions to Utah transcend their business careers, Natalie Gochnour, the chamber's chief economist, said Wednesday.
"It's for people who have done something truly enduring for the community,'' Gochnour said. ``It's a recognition of service, and hopefully, it [will] also inspire others both to hear the stories of these great men and potentially replicate them."
Gochnour knows Anderson well. Each January before the state of the annual state legislative session, Anderson meets with her to discuss the bank's priorities. The conversation always strays into other areas that interest Anderson, she said.
"He will always slide across the table a folder of a whole bunch of studies, research, bills that deal with all aspects of the community housing, Utah's refugee population, art, technology, USTAR (the Utah Science, Technology and Research Initiative). I always leave those meetings just amazed at the breadth of his contributions, that he gets outside the narrow interest of business and gets into the much broader interests of the community," Gochnour said.
Gochnour said she was less acquainted with Simmons, but added that he has given Anderson the means to pursue his community service interests.
"They've been partners in serving this community. At the chamber, in considering the service of both of these men, everyone felt quite strongly that they have been a team," she said.
Simmons is the son of Roy Simmons, a longtime president of Zions Bank and founder of Zions Bancorp. After earning an economics degree at the University of Utah, he attended Harvard University, where he received a master's of business administration degree.
After graduation, Simmons worked at Allied Bank of Texas as a credit analyst, commercial loan officer and assistant to the president. He joined Zions Bancorp in 1981, taking the job of chief financial officer. He was named president in 1986, CEO in 1990 and chairman in 2002.
In 1985, Simmons co-chaired an effort to raise funds for the city's first permanent homeless shelter. He was chairman of the Utah Symphony from 1995 to 1996, and helped develop a ballot initiative that would authorize a levy to generate funding for cultural organizations and recreational facilities. The initiative gave rise to ZAP, the Zoo, Arts and Parks tax authorization committee.
Simmons is currently a member of the Utah System of Higher Education Board of Regents, president of the Shelter-the-Homeless Committee, and sits on the boards of several organizations, including the Pioneer Theatre Company and Utah Youth Village.
Anderson received an undergraduate degree in philosophy and economics from Columbia University and a master's degree in economics and international studies from Johns Hopkins University.
He joined Zions in 1990 and was promoted to president and CEO in 1997. Under Anderson's leadership, the bank expanded its services to women and minorities. He pushed for the creation of English-Spanish language branches in many location, as well as a department to support minority-owned businesses.
In 2004, bothered that Utah's average salary was slipping further behind the U.S. average, he helped push the legislature to pass a bill that set up USTAR. Anderson was involved in the creation of World Trade Center Utah, initiated the merger between the chamber and the Downtown Alliance and was a member of the 2015 Transportation Alliance. He has also chaired the board of United Way of Salt Lake.