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Best for Colorado: Business for good, in the face of the unknown

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Namasté Solar was honored with a Best for Colorado Changemaker award for adapting to challenges brought by COVID-19.

The coronavirus pandemic shook the Colorado business community to its core this year.

Seemingly overnight, the way that our state does business and celebrates businesses shifted to deal with constantly changing circumstances. And this year’s Best for Colorado Awards Ceremony — hosted by the Alliance Center in partnership with B Lab and B Local Colorado — was not spared from the COVID-19 upheaval.

The annual awards ceremony, which celebrates companies that are leveraging the power of business to do better in Colorado, quickly pivoted. The once in-person event transformed into two online events “dedicated to resiliency and businesses as a force for good,” says Anne Behlouli, programs manager at the Alliance Center.

In a year packed full of challenges, it seems fitting to celebrate the companies still committed to doing good. “The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted inequalities and disparities in our systems,” Behlouli says. “More than ever, the business community can be part of the solution and help our community be resilient.”

The two events, August 5 and 12, were designed to imitate the event’s usual in-person experience.

The first event explored attributes that businesses need to remain resilient and rebuild in a panel. The panelists — who included Jice Johnson, CEO of the Black Business Initiative; Annette Quintana, CEO of Istonish; Jason Sharpe, CEO of Namasté Solar; and Eric Raymond, director of social impact and advocacy at North Face — discussed how businesses can stay afloat in times of uncertainty and build an equitable and sustainable future.

The second event was more celebratory, honoring the eight 2019-2020 Best for Colorado honorees in two categories: the Measure What Matter awards, honoring the highest scoring companies working with the Alliance Center’s B Impact Assessment to measure and improve their impact; and the Commit to Action awards, a new honor celebrating projects and initiatives that are having a replicable impact on their community.

“More than ever, the message of the Best for Colorado program is important. We need companies to be engaged and help build a more resilient and sustainable world on the other side of this crisis,” Behlouli says.

BSW Wealth Partners, an independent wealth management firm and 2020 Measure What Matters award honoree, didn’t skip a beat this year in its commitment to make a difference.

“We have always believed and embodied evolution, and we will continue to push the envelope when it comes to the employment of technology, elevating client service, and taking care of our team,”  says Nicole Zelyez, outreach and engagement coordinator at BSW.

Although the pandemic brought changes to the firm’s event schedule, it remained steadfast in its commitment to the community, re-allocating its events fund to support local health-care workers.

Namasté Solar, another 2020 Measure What Matters honoree, faced significant economic uncertainty this year; as it shifted resources, secured a PPP loan and developed new safety procedures to remain afloat.

“Balancing community and employee health and safety while trying to operate a profitable business has been extremely challenging,” Sharpe says of the solar company he leads. “We are now growing again, and due to our cooperative business model and healthy organizational culture, we feel confident we will weather the ongoing uncertainty and emerge well poised to fulfill our mission for many years to come.”

And amid everything, the company found new ways to support its community, committing itself to participating in the movement for lasting social justice following the uprising of the Black Lives Matter movement.

In a year shrouded in uncertainty, Best for Colorado not only reminds businesses that resiliency is possible, but that they have a responsibility to their communities — a commitment worth celebrating.

“The tragedies stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic are only the first of a series of crises about to confront us, from global loss of biodiversity to inequalities of our economic system to the climate crisis,” Behlouli says. “We have an obligation to emerge from this pandemic in a way that helps solve the larger crisis.”

Best for Colorado Honorees

Measure What Matters Awards

Commit to Action Awards