Entrepreneurship, that somewhat enigmatic art of business that grows great ideas, will have a new and highly effective home at Southern Utah University in the days to come.
That’s thanks to a generous matching grant from the Larry H. & Gail Miller Family Foundation and a number of additional donors who appreciate the innovative business practice and wish to aid in its expansion. The Millers’ gift came at a critical time in SUU’s $17 million business building campaign, inspiring new donors to step forward.
SUU’s new business building and renovation of the existing building, now in the planning and design phase and due to be completed within the next three years, will feature The Larry H. and Gail Miller Family Center for Entrepreneurship to foster creativity, collaboration and innovation for students hoping to start their own company.
The center will include The Christy Family Incubator Lab, office space, and a place for guidance and mentoring from successful business owners. Increased efficiency will be a byproduct of the center, bringing under one roof impactful University and community efforts that have been ongoing for several years.
Carl Templin, dean of the SUU School of Business, has long been working with faculty, staff, students and area businesses to mentor young entrepreneurs.
“We are so excited to have the Entrepreneurship Center as part of the new business building and to be associated with the Miller family, certainly one of the greatest entrepreneurs in Utah. This center will help us mentor and grow student entrepreneurs from any discipline,” he said.
Larry H. Miller, one of the most inspiring figures in Utah’s recent history, passed away in 2009 after building upon a simple beginning in the auto parts industry to become the leader of one of the largest privately owned companies in the western United States. The Larry H. Miller Group of Companies began in 1979 when Larry purchased his first Toyota dealership in Murray, Utah, and now encompasses more than 80 businesses and properties that span 46 states. Included are a more than 50 dealerships in seven western states and other enterprises such as the NBA’s Utah Jazz and its well-known arena; MiLB Triple-A Salt Lake Bees; numerous auto racing concerns; Fanzz sports retail apparel stores; KJZZ-TV and radio station 1280 The Zone Network; Megaplex movie theaters, and more. His widow, Gail, today serves as chair of the Miller Group.
“As a family, our foundation is pleased to be part of the new Center for Entrepreneurship at SUU…we should help others along the way by sharing and teaching the lessons we have learned. If we are diligent, our example will inspire others to become lifelong students, teachers and leaders,” she said.
Following the Miller pledge, funding for the Center and the Business Building campaign came quickly as 15 new donors responded within a week to fully underwrite the project. Donations were received from Mark and Julie Svoboda, Jon Christy and family, Utahns Garth and Jerri Frehner of New Harmony, Joe and Beverly Burgess and Gail and Jane Bradshaw of Cedar City, State Bank of Southern Utah, and from members of the School of Business National Advisory Board.
The new business building will efficiently educate future business practitioners and leaders who will energize the economy of our state, nation, and world, and do so with a sound ethical base as well as with solid and dynamic knowledge and experience. It will be designed to foster participatory and practical business education, as flexible learning spaces will encourage mastery of information and greater collaboration.