The Economic Development Council of Colorado (EDCC) announced the 2017 EDIE award recipients, recognizing economic development excellence during its annual Drive/Lead/Succeed Conference at the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort. “It’s the hard work and contributions of communities, institutions and individuals like these who make Colorado economically successful,” said John Hall, EDCC Board Chair.
Large Community of the Year – Thornton, Colorado
The award for ‘Large Community of the Year’ was presented to the City of Thornton for a variety of projects, including:
- Thornton Water Project, a $400+ million pipeline project to provide water for Thornton until buildout
- Simon Premium Outlets, the state’s only premium outlets development at 365,000 sq. ft.
- Amazon Robotics Sort Facility, Colorado’s largest industrial facility at 2.4 million sq. ft.
“We made a conscious decision to make economic development a priority in Thornton,” said John Cody, Economic Development Director of the City of Thornton. “After the recession, we knew we had to take a serious approach and started looking around the state at what works, and what doesn’t work. That was the beginning of our efforts to employ economic development as our growth strategy.”
Small Community of the Year – Estes Park, Colorado
The award for ‘Small Community of the Year’ was presented to Estes Park, Colorado – a town that sets its sights on building a more resilient, inclusive and vibrant community and economy after recovering from the devastating flood in 2013. As part of this approach, the town has completed a Broadband Business Plan and Feasibility Study that is making high speed internet a reality in the community.
“It’s the people of our community and their ‘mountain strong spirt’ that helped us all pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and not let anything get us down,” said Jon Nicholas, President/CEO of the Estes Park Economic Development Corporation. “Tremendous collaboration is what moved us forward.”
Company of the Year – Bonsai Design, Grand Junction, Colorado
The award for ‘Company of the Year’ was presented to Bonsai Design of Grand Junction, Colorado. For more than a decade, Bonsai Design has been delivering adrenaline-inducing fun for families and corporations through their high-flying adventure courses in 14 states and Canada. The outdoor recreation business is growing rapidly and expects to be at 50 employees within a year.
The company’s owners, who started the business in 2004 on a shoestring budget operating out of their garage, both invest and serve on their local EDC Board. “Grand Junction Economic Partnership has taken such an interest in getting to know us, getting to know our business,” said Sarah Shrader, co-owner of Bonsai Design. “They’ve been our partner along the way, whether it’s connecting us to resources or offering programs that benefit our business, they’ve helped guide us to success.”
Volunteer of the Year – Gus Westerman, Dolores County CSU Extension Director
The Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Gus Westerman of Dolores County CSU Extension for his volunteer economic development work for the county. Westerman serves as the Chair of an all-volunteer group, in addition to holding down a full-time job. Through his initiative, the economic development group has played a key role in revitalizing the Chamber of Commerce, oversees a microloan program for local businesses, and manages a business park.
Additionally, Gus’s efforts have led to a new Road and Bridge shop for Dolores County, as well as a shooting range. “I’m going to continue my work with Dolores by bringing broadband to the community,” said Westerman. “It’s our next best step for putting our community and the area on the map.”
Partnership Award – Pueblo Community College and Vestas
The Partnership Award was presented to Pueblo Community College and Vestas (a global energy company dedicated to wind energy) for their joint venture on an employee training program. Since 2009, Pueblo Community College has been offering a math refresher course, called “Shop Floor Math” after discovering that many Vestas employees hadn’t performed mathematical calculations since high school. The course provides employees with an opportunity to review concepts, practice computations, and learn about real-life math applications.
Economic Development Achievement Award – Kevin Tilson
The Economic Development Achievement Award was presented to Kevin Tilson, Castle Rock Downtown Alliance Director. Tilson successfully integrated two separate downtown organizations into a highly effective and respected Downtown Alliance, and is currently working on a pipeline of over $50 million in new potential investment to Downtown Castle Rock. Additionally, Tilson has led the attraction of over $125 million in capital investment, and over 150 new primary jobs.
Rookie of the Year – Karah Reygers, Castle Rock Economic Development Corporation
The Rookie of the Year Award was presented to Karah Reygers of the Castle Rock EDC. Though only on the job for 2 and a half years, Reygers directs and leads many of the organization’s programs, including the business retention program and digital marketing and publicity program. Reygers also volunteers her time to assist rural communities in Colorado with Economic Development challenges.
Chairman’s Choice Award – Tom Clark, Metro Denver Economic Development Corp. (retired)
The Chairman’s Choice Award was presented to Tom Clark, formerly with Metro Denver EDC. Tom has spent his entire professional career dedicated to economic development. His work embodies a collaborative spirit, he is a cultivator of relationships, and is someone who knows that inclusive regionalism is the only way to do economic development.
Tom has worked on countless business attraction and retention deals, several major projects with statewide impact including the creation of Denver International Airport, Colorado’s bid to get Major League Baseball, and the successful approval of Denver’s regional transit system – Fastracks.