Blue Star Recyclers, a store that specializes in selling scrap craft materials, and the catering director of the Springs Rescue Mission received the first Prism Awards to honor social impact businesses Friday from the Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado.
Blue Star Recyclers was named Social Impact Business of the Year. Blue Star wasn't started as a business, but it quickly became one after Bill Morris began working at a rehabilitation center for individuals with developmental disabilities and found some of the center's clients were disassembling electronic equipment to be recycled. Other finalists for the award included the Pikes Peak Habitat for Humanity ReStore and Springs Rescue Mission's Mission Catering operation.
Morris realized he could create a business employing adults with autism and other disabilities to recycle electronic equipment and reduce the need for government benefits those individuals receive. With early support from the Fagnant family, which owns Qualtek Manufacturing, Blue Star has become a nonprofit and grown to employ 35 people and has expanded to Denver and Boulder.
Who Gives a Scrap was named Social Impact Startup of the Year. Jayne Blewitt and Lorrie Myers started the company in late 2015 to recycle and sell craft items such as unused fabric, strips of wood, old paint, spools of yarn and many other items that would otherwise end up in a landfill at discounted prices from locations in Old Colorado City and Fort Collins. The business has diverted more than 77,000 pounds of materials since it began collecting items in July 2015. Other finalists for the award included Kids on Bikes, The Pedal Station and TSC Counseling Center, sponsored by Sanctuary Church.
Tyler Peoples, Springs Rescue Mission's catering director, was named Social Entrepreneur of the Year. Peoples was named Chef of the Year in 2015 by the Pikes Peak Chapter of the American Culinary Federation and previously was chef at the Briarhurst Manor and executive chef at The Warehouse restaurant. The other finalist for the award was Lisa Tessarowicz, owner of Epicentral Coworking in downtown Colorado Springs.
The awards were co-sponsored by the BBB and Vectra Bank to "create awareness of this growing sector of our economy and celebrate those social impact businesses and social entrepreneurs who are growing our economy while creating impact for our community," BBB CEO Jonathan Liebert said.
Judges for the competition included Liebert; Shawn Gullixson, vice president of Vectra Bank; George Reed, dean of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs School of Public Affairs; Thayer Tutt, president of El Pomar Foundation; Ted Stolberg and Margaret Casart of the Denver-based Beanstalk Foundation; Jacob Eichengreen, executive director of The Quad Innovation Partnership; and Aikta Marcoulier, executive director of the Pikes Peak Small Business Development Center.
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