DENVER - Today, the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT), announced the 2022 recipients of the Governor’s Minority Business Award. These for-profit, minority-owned businesses have been selected in recognition of their contributions to the economic diversity and success of minority communities across Colorado.
“We’re thrilled to recognize these hard working businesses across our state as they contribute to more inclusive and equitable economic opportunity for everyone. This exciting award is part of our work building a Colorado for All and making sure Colorado remains the best place to live, work and raise a family,” said Patrick Meyers, OEDIT Executive Director.
This year’s selection process was highly competitive, with 100 businesses nominated from all four corners of the state. The 11 awardees represent a broad cross section of Colorado’s small business community, including early childhood educators, tattoo artists, restaurateurs who share globally inspired cuisine with their communities, and consultants who help cannabis businesses across the state and the country compete in a broader market and maintain regulatory compliance. Across these industries, they share a commitment to making a difference through their daily work and beyond, serving diverse clientele and contributing to their communities through activities like fundraising and outreach.
Mawa’s Kitchen in the Roaring Fork Valley is the creation of Chef Mawa McQueen, who is originally from the Ivory Coast of West Africa and prides herself on the cultural diversity of her menus and diverse hiring practices across her restaurant group, McQueen Hospitality. At Mawa’s Kitchen, the staff speak a collective eight languages and represent nine countries. During the pandemic, McQueen introduced a new business, in part to help support her staff—gluten-free, protein-rich and vegan GrainFreeNola.
“I needed to find a solution because the restaurant was closed, to feed my employees, pay rent and pay bills. So there’s good that comes out of things,” said Chef Mawa McQueen. “We are outgoing, we employ a lot of minority people, we support and advocate for women and minority businesses, and I think we should all help each other to thrive.”
Each year, LionGodz Tattoo in Pueblo, Colorado, hosts two fundraisers for the local community: a ribbon awareness day in November and a mental health awareness day in May. At these events, the business offers free, thumb-sized tattoos of a ribbon (ribbon awareness day) or a semicolon (mental health awareness) for individuals affected by health issues like cancer, depression and anxiety. They have also partnered with New Leaf Therapy to promote access to mental health support.
“We just open up our doors to our community to be able to meet and host… everyone, especially those that normally would not have the privilege to come in here and get such a service. So that’s been healing and very heartfelt,” said MaryAnn Terrones, LionGodz Tattoo co-owner and operator.
Area 420 is a 420-acre cannabis business park located in Moffat, Colorado, and zoned for licensed commercial grows, marijuana-infused product laboratories, testing labs and research facilities for recreational and medical cannabis. A collective of 79 cannabis licenses, Area 420 is the world’s largest collection of independently owned commercial cannabis operators.
“This truly is a collective… These are mom and pop, equity owned, minority businesses, and that’s really what we specialize in—providing opportunities for those who didn’t have the resources to compete in other markets,” said Mike Biggio, co-founder of Area 420.
A selection committee composed of advocates in the minority-owned business community reviewed nominations and selected Governor’s Minority Business Award recipients from each of the state’s Four Corners regions as well as all sizes of businesses. Six are located in rural Colorado.
- Microbusiness: Majestic Mountain Tile & Stone - Breckenridge
- Medium business: Mawa's Kitchen - Aspen
- Microbusiness: iComply, LLC - Denver
- Small business: La Rola Urban Colombian Food - Littleton
- Medium business: Stepping Stones Learning Center of Littleton - Littleton
- Large business: El Coco Pirata - Denver
- Microbusiness: LionGodz Tattoo - Pueblo
- Small business: Ninos del Sol - Alamosa
- Large business: AREA 420 - Moffat
The Governor’s Minority Business Awards is an annual program hosted by the Minority Business Office of Colorado. To be informed about future rounds of the program, subscribe to the Minority Business Office monthly newsletter.