Cimino, 86, was honored for contributing to the economic growth of the Colorado Springs area through the state's largest independent vehicle dealership group and also for many volunteer and philanthropic efforts he has headed, including starting the Mt. Carmel Veterans Service Center in Colorado Springs and the Mt. Carmel Wellness and Community Center in his hometown of Trinidad.
"Jay is not only an incredibly innovative and successful entrepreneur, but also one of our region's most generous philanthropists. His passion for this community is equally impressive as his business success," chamber CEO Dirk Draper said in a news release.
"He employs more than a thousand people throughout Colorado, with a significant number here in the Pikes Peak region. He invests in his employees, our region's veterans and military installations, and his community."
The award is the chamber's top honor and has been presented annually since 1975, except for last year when the group's annual gala was canceled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Kevin O'Neil, CEO of O'Neil Group and developer of the downtown Catalyst Campus, a space and cybersecurity-focused business park, received the award when it was last presented in 2019.
Cimino started at Phil Long Ford in 1975 and eventually became its CEO, overseeing its growth to 17 locations in Colorado and New Mexico that generate more than $1 billion a year in revenue. He also co-founded The Home Cares, a charity that last year merged the Peak Military Care Network to form the Home Front Military Network to provide financial support and other resources for military personnel and veterans.
Robert McLaughlin, executive director of the Mt. Carmel Veterans Service Center, said in his letter supporting Cimino's nomination for the award that Cimino "has been a tireless advocate for military, veterans and military families."
The chamber also presented awards to three businesses:
• Quantum Metric was named Company of the Year after the Colorado Springs-based software company raised $200 million in venture capital, valuing Quantum Metric at more than $1 billion, making it the first technology "unicorn," a startup valued at more than $1 billion, in the Springs area.
• CO.A.T.I Uprise, a food hall in the Trolley Building in downtown Colorado Springs, was named New Business of the Year. The chamber said CO.A.T.I helped to "not only transform southwest downtown, but also Colorado Springs' culinary scene," providing a brick-and-mortar venue for food truck operators and other culinary entrepreneurs.
• Weidner Field, a new 8,000-seat multiuse stadium built by Weidner Apartment Homes and the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC in downtown Colorado Springs, was named Community Investment of the Year. The chamber credits the stadium with bringing "an influx of people downtown, most notably outside of typical workday hours," including an average of more 6,000 fans to each home game of the Switchbacks in their first season at the stadium.