Press Release

Thursday, November 29

AWB honors six employers for overall excellence, innovation

Association of Washington Business honored 18 finalists and presented six employers with awards at third-annual Evening of Excellence Nov. 28

OLYMPIA —The Association of Washington Business, the state’s largest and oldest business association, presented its top awards to six employers Wednesday at the third-annual Evening of Excellence.

A total of 18 finalists from throughout the state were recognized at the formal event at Benaroya Hall in Seattle. The six award winners were recognized for exemplifying the innovation, community spirit and environmental stewardship that make Washington a great place to live and work.

“Our award finalists and the winners are as diverse as our state’s industry sectors – from helping families file immigration paperwork in a high-tech and efficient manner to an environmentally friendly manufacturer of paper products,” said AWB President Kris Johnson. “The goal of these awards is to highlight how employers strengthen communities and support families. They’re fostering thriving work environments, advancing educational efforts and supporting innovation that lifts up families across the globe. Each of the finalists, and so many other employers in Washington state, were deserving of the awards.”

The six awards given out align with AWB’s Mission and Vision statements.

Employer of the Year: Recognizes an employer that has implemented innovative job retention, creation, benefits, and/or compensation plans that foster a thriving work environment.

Wagstaff, Inc., located in Spokane Valley, is a global leader in the aluminum industry and has a laser focus on supporting its staff with compensation packages equal to or above market average. This includes medical benefits and bonuses like an onsite gym and more. Wagstaff also partners with area schools and other groups to support workforce development for the manufacturing sector.

The other finalists for the Employer of the Year Award were SiteCrafting of Tacoma and Auburn-based Skills Inc.

Entrepreneur of the Year: Given to an entrepreneur whose business is less than five years-old and has made a significant impact in their industry.

Seattle-based Boundless Immigration received the Entrepreneur of the Year award for its work to streamline immigration paperwork. The company uses technology to provide immigration support and expertise to families who could otherwise not afford it. The company’s services include an independent review of paperwork by an independent immigration attorney and formatting and printing of documents as required by the government for submission.

The other finalists for the Entrepreneur of the Year Award were Knutzen Engineering in Kennewick and Noggin Branding in Bellingham.

Leading Environmental Practices Award: Recognizes a business that has put a priority on environmental improvement, education or outreach to its business sector and/or community.

Inland Empire Paper Company was chosen as this year’s award recipient for Leading Environmental Practices. In business since 1911, the Spokane company’s continuous investment and innovation has solidified its reputation as one of the most environmentally friendly paper makers in the world. Along with being the sixth-largest paper recycler in the United States, the company has reduced its carbon footprint by 30,000 tons and natural gas consumption by 500 million cubic feet per year.

The other finalists for the Leading Environmental Practices Award were Spokane-based Avista Corporation and Renewable Energy Group in Grays Harbor.

Achieve Award: Recognizes a business that has excelled in creating, implementing or supporting a high-caliber education and/or workforce development system aligned with closing the employment gap.

Seattle-based Pioneer Human Services received this year’s Achieve Award for its work in providing counseling, treatment, housing, job training and employment services to Washington residents with a history in the criminal justice system. The company has served nearly 10,000 clients, removing educational and legal hurdles that keep them from achieving their goals, reengaging with their communities and reentering the workforce.

The other finalists for the Achieve Award were Out of the Box Manufacturing in Renton and the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee, or AJAC.

Connect Award: Recognizes a business whose products and/or services have positively impacted the way in which Washington employers and communities are connected to each other and the world.

The Connect Award was presented to RHD Enterprises, Inc. The Tumwater-based company specializes in building construction, design and fabrication and building workplaces and jobsites that are inclusive to all individuals. The company partners with non-profit groups whose missions center on supporting women and marginalized communities, including The Little Red Schoolhouse, SafePlace’s “Speak Up, Speak Out” Gala, and the YWCA of Olympia.

The other finalists for the Connect Award were Kennewick-based Carbitex and Seattle-based UPS.

Advance Award: Recognizes a business that has had a significant cause-oriented impact in its sector and/or community and contributed to the advancement of the economy.

Bellevue-based MOD Pizza received this year’s Advance Award. One of the fastest growing restaurant chains in America, MOD Pizza has a greater mission. The company intentionally focuses on offering living-wage jobs to those with barriers, such as criminal records, mental disabilities and struggling with addiction. The company partners with WorkSource, FareStart, JUMA, Goodwill Industries, Best Buddies and others to support their workforce endeavors.

The other finalists for the Advance Award were Omeros Corporation in Seattle and The McGregor Company based in Colfax.

For high resolution photos of the award finalists and winners, use this link.

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