A familiar figure in Utah’s business community will be the newest leader of the 130-year-old Salt Lake Chamber.
Derek Miller, who most recently was president and CEO of World Trade Center Utah after serving as Gov. Gary Herbert’s chief of staff, will take over the helm of the chamber and its affiliated Downtown Alliance in May. He is replacing Lane Beattie, who is retiring after 15 years as the chamber’s president and CEO.
“Utah’s economy has flourished because of good people who work together,” said Miller, who forged other ties to the business world from a stint as managing director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development under former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.
“As our state continues to grow,” he added, “we must ensure principles of cooperation and collaboration continue. As we do so, Utah has the opportunity to transform from the ‘Crossroads of the West’ to the ‘Crossroads of the World.’”
Miller’s selection follows a three-month search by a committee composed of former and current chairmen of the chamber and Downtown Alliance and key business people. Both the chamber’s executive committee and its broader Board of Governors voted for Miller.
“Derek is a proven leader with experience in both the public and private sector,” said board chairman Wilford Clyde, chief executive of Clyde Companies Inc., a construction firm. “He has spent the majority of his career focused on Utah’s prosperity and growing our economy into one of the most competitive in the country. He knows this state and understands the needs of our business community.”
“I feel confident he is the right person to lead the Salt Lake Chamber into the future,” Clyde said of the organization that, under Beattie’s lengthy leadership, became more vocal in publicly and legislatively advocating for causes — such as cleaning the air — that affect the state’s 63,000 employers and their 1.4 million employees.
Beattie echoed the emphasis on collaboration in his congratulatory remarks for his successor, saying his accomplishments over the past decade and a half were propelled by the “participation of the state’s business community.” He predicted they “will continue for many years to come” under Miller’s guidance.
A lawyer who also has a master of public administration degree from Brigham Young University, Miller has experience as a management consultant with the accounting firm Arthur Andersen and as legal counsel for a U.S. House committee.
He said he was enticed to take the dual Chamber/Downtown Alliance post because he believes “Utah’s economic future has never been brighter and these organizations stand at the pinnacle of influence and responsibility to ensure that prosperity continues to spread across the state.”
Leaving World Trade Center Utah was not easy, Miller noted.
“I have loved being part of an organization that promotes prosperity across Utah by advocating for free enterprise and international business,” he said. “I never cease to be amazed at the innovative Utah companies that are doing exactly what a free market requires them to do — to compete in a global market and win.”
The chamber and the trade center worked closely on a number of issues in the nearly four years that Miller ran the trade-promotion agency, increasing the number of participating Utah companies to almost 100. During his tenure, he also initiated a program to help rural companies develop export opportunities and led trade missions to London, Singapore, Vietnam, Jordan and Israel.
“The organization has experienced phenomenal growth and hundreds of Utah companies have expanded their business overseas,” said Scott Anderson, the Zions Bank executive who is chairman of the World Trade Center board.
Anderson will head a search committee to replace Miller, who will continue to lead the trade center until a new CEO is selected. Other committee members are Natalie Gochnour from the University of Utah Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, Lew Cramer of CBC Advisors and Rich Lambert of Wells Fargo.