UW News

November 20, 2003

Program presents annual minority business awards

Nine of the approximately 54,000 businesses owned by people of color in Washington state were honored last evening at the 2003 UW Minority Business of the Year Awards.

“This year’s award winners are proof of just how economically successful minority-owned businesses are in Washington,” said Michael Verchot, director of the Business and Economic Development Program, an arm of the UW Business School. “Collectively, the nine companies we’ve recognized for their outstanding business achievements have annual sales of $414 million and maintain operations in at least 10 additional states and five foreign countries.”

According to Verchot, this year’s award winners were chosen based on a variety of factors, including revenue growth, management quality and community service. Additionally, said Verchot, Washington state’s minority-owned companies as a whole make a substantial contribution to the economy by generating $22 billion in yearly sales and employing more than 140,000 people.

“We launched the UW Minority Business of the Year Awards five years ago in order to recognize the outstanding achievements of globally competitive Washington state businesses that are owned by people of color,” said Verchot.

Since that time, he said, the program has assisted more than 120 businesses in economically distressed and emerging communities by providing executive education scholarships to inner-city business owners and holding quarterly seminars on such topics as e-business, cost effective sales strategies and tax assistance for small businesses.

Last night’s honorees hailed from King, Pierce, Snohomish, Yakima, Spokane, Okanogan and Franklin counties. One of this year’s award recipients is Yakima Valley-based Powell-Christensen, one of the Northwest’s principal petroleum products distribution firms. The company’s owners, Gary and Annette Christensen, said after 23 years they’ve turned what was a once-struggling business into a $73 million-a-year firm that employs about 200 people.

The UW’s Business Economic Development Program identified and invited a list of the state’s highest-grossing minority-owned firms and CEOs from at least 27 of them attended the event. Mic Dinsmore, chief executive officer for the Port of Seattle, delivered the keynote address. Proceeds from the event will be applied to scholarships for under-represented minority students at the Business School.

Doing business

Winners of the 2003 UW Minority Business of the Year Awards included:

William D. Bradford Minority Business of the Year, Powell-Christensen Inc. (Grandview); Distinguished Business Achievement, Garry Struthers Associates, Inc. (Bellevue); and Emerging Business, MUNDO Communications Network Inc. (Richland).

For more information about the program, visit http://depts.washington.edu/busdev/.