The year's best in business and economic development were celebrated at a glittering Chamber & EDC gala Nov. 4 at The Broadmoor.
At the same time 2017 got its due, it was a time to acknowledge those with long years supporting the chamber since its establishment in 1892, said President/CEO Dirk Draper. Entitled to blow out the most candles on the anniversary cake was Penrose-St. Francis, with 100 years.
The top annual award, 2017 Business Citizen of the Year, was a popular choice: Kent Fortune, who heads the 1,800-employee USAA Colorado Springs. A graduate of Mitchell High School and UCCS, he started with USAA in 1989. Fortune never stopped smiling as he told the hundreds of attendees his story, sharing that he and wife Stephannie, sitting at the Kent Fortune Fan Club table, wore matching bright pink because she is a six-month cancer survivor.
Draper was quoted, "beyond business, Kent is a steadfast and enthusiastic community leader who believes in Colorado Springs and works vigorously to influence our city's quality of life for its citizens." Everyone must "lock arms together" to make a city work, Fortune said.
2017 New Business of the Year, FoodMaven and head Patrick Bultema, were described in glowing terms for their forward-thinking method of reducing food waste, buying surplus food from groceries and distributors and selling it to restaurants and food institutions. Food not sold is "rescued" and donated to food charities or for compost. Days after the chamber event, it was announced that former Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb has become an investor on the board of FoodMaven.
Named 2017 Company of the Year was Polaris Alpha, a high-tech company "focused on supporting the safety and security of our nation and its allies through space-based and intelligence solutions."
Westside Investment Partners had the top Community Investment of the Year for a campus on Garden of the Gods Road.
Photo gallery: gazette.com/life/around-town