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Best for Colorado is a Force for Good in Business

Inside Colorado's B Economy


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Colorado businesses are on the leading edge of a trend to do well by doing good, with one of the highest concentrations of B Corp-certified companies in the country. Which is why, each year, the Alliance Center, in partnership with B Lab and B Local Colorado, awards the companies that are doing the Best for Colorado.

“Coloradans live their values,” says Alliance Center Executive Director Brenna Simmons-St. Onge. “Doing good will drive profits. This is not just a nice statement anymore. It is tried true and delivered.”

Best for Colorado is based on an assessment created by B Lab and run by the Alliance Center to help companies measure their overall social and environmental impact. Companies complete an online assessment that helps determine how well they’re doing and how they can improve.

This year, nine companies were honored as top performers at the third annual Best for Colorado Award Gala on June 6. They are honored based on their commitment to the environment, the community, their workers and their customers. Additional awards were given to an inspirational leader and to a group of companies for their collaboration efforts.

Simmons-St. Onge says the community has grown and become more diverse. Honorees included a solo entrepreneur, a startup, a company with more than 250 employees, the tech industry, a consulting firm, a rum distillery, and more.

“This diversity illustrates that a profound change is underway and how powerful this change is,” Simmons-St. Onge says. “Every company is concerned and empowered to build a better Colorado and change the definition of what it means to be a successful business.”

Businesses as a Force for Good

Businesses can act as a force for good for their community, says Grant Barnhill, CEO and founder of honoree Shift Workspaces.

“Society’s most challenging problems can’t be solved by government and nonprofits alone,” he says. “I think that the biggest disconnect is that many companies believe that their decisions and actions don’t impact their communities or the larger world collectively. When you operate from this paradigm, it’s easy to dismiss responsibility or the need for a company mission based on mutuality.”

Programs such as B Corp and Best for Colorado strive to provide examples of companies that are shifting this paradigm by providing examples of companies that have balanced profitability and doing good, even when it’s difficult.

“These movements are attempting to literally redefine capitalism, demonstrating that it is possible, and actually not that hard, to positively correlate profit and social/environmental good,” says Emily KenCairn, owner of honoree Apiary Studio, a one-woman web design firm. “It can be hard for me to strike a balance.”

“Pioneering conscientious business practices adds complexity to operations, drives crucial conversations and requires an investment in time and resources,” says Jason Sharpe, CEO and co-owner of Namasté Solar, an employee-owned solar installation business. “It is difficult, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.”

For some, the business landscape, and actual landscape, of Colorado makes this a little bit easier.

“We have an amazing culture within our business community in Colorado,” says Jess Salazar, CEO of honoree Prosono, an agency that helps organizations strike the balance of profit and sustainability. “We take pride not only in the businesses we operate, but how those businesses operate and how they support society in impactful ways.”

And when it comes to environmental stewardship, “We live in one of the most pristine and beautiful places in Colorado,” says Karen Hoskin, owner and founder of honoree Montanya Distillers, a Crested Butte-based company focused on reducing its environmental trail in every aspect of its supply chain.

“All we need to do is walk out the front door and realize how incumbent upon us it is to preserve what we love.”

Best for Colorado Honorees

ENVIRONMENT AWARDS

Lever Energy Capital 
Montanya Distillers

COMMUNITY AWARDS

Prosono
Shift Workspaces
Apiary Studio 

WORKER AWARDS

Apto 
Namasté Solar

CUSTOMER AND INSPIRATIONAL LEADERS AWARDS

Ship Sunshine - Inspirational Leader
First Affirmative - Customer

BEST FOR COLORADO COLLABORATIVE AWARD HONOREES

(A new award that honors the following companies for their dedication, collaboration and leadership to create an inclusive and sustainable economy through business.)

B Lab
B Lab Local Colorado
Gary Community Investments
Center for Ethical Social Responsibility - Leeds School of Business Boulder, University of Colorado

Editors Note: This article was updated on 9/26 to reflect that Apiary Studio is a web design and digital strategy firm, not a landscape design company 

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Ali Longwell

Ali Longwell is the digital editor at ColoradoBiz. She has also written for SDxCentral, a B2B online technology publication, as well as Denver-area lifestyle magazines 5280, Denver Life Magazine, Avid Lifestyle and more. She can be reached at alongwell@cobizmag.com

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