DENVER -- Governor Jared Polis has been awarded the inaugural Torchlight Award for his leadership in advancing employee ownership and employee stock ownership plans (ESOP), an honor that comes from The ESOP Association.
The Governor was recognized with the Torchlight Award during the 2022 TEA National Conference, hosted by The ESOP Association the week of May 3 through 6. During their 47th annual event, the organization, which represents the interests of millions of employee-owned businesses and owners across US state capitals, honored Colorado Governor Jared Polis for years of advancing legislation, pursuing regulatory assistance, and being an active advocate for employee ownership in Colorado.
This is the first year this award has been given, honoring an elected or appointed public official for their exemplary leadership and advancement of employee owners and ESOPs.
“I am very honored to have received this award from The ESOP Association, as employee ownership has always been a cause that’s near and dear to my heart,” said Governor Jared Polis. “With millions of businesses planning to exit in the next 10 years, employee ownership is not only important to the success of Colorado and our US economy, but also a sustainable solution for businesses to continue their legacy and reward their employees. Thank you for this recognition, and I am proud that Colorado continues to be a leader in this space.”
As a previous business owner who started and exited multiple businesses, Governor Polis made it an emphasis of his campaign and administration to share the importance of activating employee ownership in Colorado. In 2019, he appointed the Employee Ownership Commission to further this mission and has since launched Colorado’s Employee Ownership Office within the Office of Economic Development and International Trade to provide support, access to capital, and programming.
“Since starting the commission and office, we have tackled so many opportunities to support business owners and break down barriers to entry,” said Employee Ownership Commission Co-Chair, Sandy Shoemaker. “The impact of making employee ownership a state priority has really showed, and we are excited for Governor Polis to be recognized for this important initiative.”
The Employee Ownership Office has launched funding opportunities such as the Employee Ownership Tax Credit and Employee Ownership Grant, connected networks of current and aspiring employee-owners, developed educational and technical assistance resources, and more.
The employee ownership community in Colorado is growing. To learn more about Colorado’s Employee Ownership Office and available programming and funding opportunities, visit their webpage.