UW Today

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November 21, 2002

Awards honor minority businesses

Demonstrating the amount of wealth minority-owned firms contribute to the state even in a sluggish economy, winners of the UW Minority Business Awards saw their revenues grow in 2001. The eight companies that received awards yesterday —based in all areas of the state — earned nearly a half billion dollars in revenue.

“Despite the economic climate, each of these firms saw their revenues grow,” said Michael Verchot, director of the UW Business and Economic Development Program, presenter of the awards. “This speaks to the importance of supporting and recognizing minority-owned companies.”

The Minority Business Awards ceremony marked one of the largest annual gatherings of minority entrepreneurs and business leaders. Proceeds from the event will be devoted to scholarships for underrepresented minority students at the UW Business School.

Verchot attributed each company’s success to its ability to provide excellent goods and services to all consumers — not just fulfilling a stereotypical need in their own communities.

“These firms compete nationally and globally and focus on quality products and services,” he said. “None of them is located in only highly populated ethnic areas.”

In addition to presenting the awards, the Business Economic Development Program has compiled a list of the state’s top 40 minority-owned firms.

Washington state’s 43,000 minority-owned companies make a substantial contribution to the economy, Verchot said, generating $11 billion in annual sales and employing 90,000 people.

“The minority population in the state and the rest of the country is growing faster than the Caucasian population,” Verchot said. “We hope our event and added list provide information about these companies to the broader business community. Doing so will strengthen our state’s economy.”

The Puget Sound Business Journal co-presented the event. Sponsors were Washington Mutual Inc., The Boeing Company and Puget Sound Energy.

This year’s awards and winners were:


  • William T. Bradford Minority Business of the Year Award, Colville Tribal Enterprise Corporation, Coulee Dam;

  • Business of Tomorrow (presented to company with total revenues of up to $2 million): Tyrisco Inc., Seattle;

  • Rising Star Award (recognizes company that has the highest growth in revenue between two fiscal years): Argus Services Inc., Spokane;

  • Largest African-American Business (grossed more than $53 million in revenues): Smokey Point Sales & Services, Arlington;

  • Largest Asian Pacific Islander Business (generated revenues of $128 million): RCI Construction Group, Sumner;

  • Largest Hispanic Business (grossed more than $53 million): Gene Jarez Salons & Spas, Bellevue;

  • Largest Native American Business (produced $78 million in total revenue): Powell-Christensen Inc., Grandview;

  • Special Recognition (recognizes demonstration of significant achievement over multi-year time period): Informatics Corporation, Richland.