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Utah Business

The Salt Lake Chamber is preparing to honor this year’s Giant In Our City, and there are a few things they want you to learn.

Learning from giants

Utahns are inherently known as builders, from homes and churches to businesses and institutions. In all of these areas, we are blessed to stand on the shoulders of giants — men and women in our community who built social, economic, and spiritual capital in our state that rivals even the most ambitious venture capital. While deal flow and stock multiples for valuations are easy to quantify and garner the headlines, it’s important to acknowledge the contributions of so many that often go unrecognized.

The institutions that come from families, schools, churches, and communities provide an irreplaceable platform for individuals to develop their talents, take their risks, and make their own contributions. This kind of irreplaceable capital does not trade with bitcoin and pork belly futures but is a sustained value worth our most ambitious investment, because its focus is most often on serving others. Activities like volunteering, mentoring, contributing to the welfare of those in need, and promoting arts and culture are just a few of the many ways to build and spread this important and holistic capital.  

On June 24, the Salt Lake Chamber will celebrate the spirit of civic engagement with the Giant in our City award. The recipients this year are Katharine and the late Robert Garff for their legacy of service, dedication to Utah, and extraordinary professional achievement. Many Utahns know the Garff name and the family’s success in the business community. However some may be less familiar with their rich legacy of community service and charitable contributions that have blessed countless lives in our state through civic giving. 

For decades the Garff’s have been passionately dedicated to education through programs like Keys to Success, a program that combines education, philanthropy, connection, and resources to achieve better academic outcomes. Education not only unlocks doors of opportunity but instills confidence and a commitment to learning that gives back through a virtuous cycle that blesses generations. 

Another noted former Giant in our City who embodied the spirit of lifting up the community was Jon M. Huntsman, Sr. His name and legacy remind us that a small start in a rural community can still lead to extraordinary outcomes. The internationally honored businessman once described life “not as a game of Solitaire,” but a journey where “people depend on one another.” According to the late Huntsman, “When one does well, others are lifted. When one stumbles, others also are impacted. There are no one-man teams — either by definition or natural law. Success is a cooperative effort; it’s dependent upon those who stand beside you.” 

We should all celebrate civic engagement and think about how we are contributing to the social, economic, and spiritual capital of Utah — the very fabric of our great state. The giants in our city and state provide a model of citizenship and have much to teach younger generations about community, giving back, and caring for those around us.

These titans of life also know what true partnership looks like in our community―a commitment to the spirit of citizenship, whether through time, financial support, or other resources. 

Sometimes in our busy life, it may be that we miss these magnificent examples of leadership and the fruits they bear; however their adoption will catalyze change by example and are capable of lifting entire communities. The giants in our lives, whose names adorn buildings or highways, not only inspire us but invite us to think about how can we each make our contribution. Engagement and its attendant success are not limited by the size of a bank account but by the size of a heart, and it is a joy in which we can all participate.