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Bend Chamber hands out SAGE Awards


On Friday evening, nearly 300 attendees gathered at Sunriver Resort to celebrate the region’s finest citizens and businesses at the 26 th annual Star Awards for Greatness and Excellence event.

“This year, we pulled out all the stops for Bend’s only Academy Awards for business,” said Robin Rogers, senior vice president of programs and events for the Bend Chamber. “We had everything from new video production and live entertainment by the Central Oregon Aerial Arts Performance Troupe, Aura, to the unveiling of our first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Roger Lee.”

The Bend Chamber received more than 50 nominations. Nominations were open to Bend Chamber members. Citizen of the Year was open to both members and the community at large. All nominees, with the exception of the People’s Choice Award and Board of Directors Award of Distinction & Community Excellence, were judged by an individual panel of judges comprised of past winners, business owners, Bend Chamber Board Members and community dignitaries.

“Every one of our nominees is deserving,” said Rogers. “It’s these members, citizens and businesses that help our community prosper and thrive.”

2015 Winners:

Lifetime Achievement: Roger Lee
Citizen of the Year: Gary Whitley
Large Business of the Year: Webfoot Painting Co.
Small Business of the Year: The Bend Radio Group
Nonprofit Organization of the Year: The Center Foundation
New and Emerging Business of the Year: Pure Barre Entrepreneur of the Year: Call of the Wild Adventures Inc. Healthy Workplace of the Year: Bend Research Inc. Board of Directors Award of Distinction & Community Excellence: Brooks Resources Corporation People’s Choice Award: Volunteers in Medicine Clinic of the Cascades

Background on the 2015 SAGE winners

Lifetime Achievement: Roger Lee

This new award was created to celebrate the work a Bend Chamber member has done not only in a year, but in his or her lifetime.

“There are so many people in this community that invested their lives to making Central Oregon a better place,” said Rogers of the Bend Chamber. “This award is intended to recognize those champions.”

Roger Leehas been the executive director of Economic Development for Central Oregon for the past 15 years.Under his leadership, EDCO has become a model for successful economic development throughout Oregon and the Northwest.

Lee has served as facilitator of Opportunity Knocks groups and participated in OSU-Cascades’ Campus Expansion Advisory Committee. In addition, Lee has been on boards and committees for the Partnership to End Poverty, Abilitree, the Central Oregon Air Service Taskforce and the Governor’s Regional Solutions Advisory Board. At the state level, Lee has served as president of the Oregon Economic Development Association and SOAR Oregon, among others.

“At the root of Roger’s professional and private success are his integrity, work ethic, selfless personality and willingness to collaborate with organizations across the region,” said EDCO Operations Manager Erin Chalet, who nominated Lee. “He is the first to deflect compliments towards his staff and colleagues, but those that know him would agree that without his unwavering dedication, insight and passion for economic development, Central Oregon would not be what it is today.”

Citizen of the Year: Gary Whitley

Gary Whitley has served in the Bend School District for more than 30 years, touching the lives of and giving guidance to thousands of students. He is an inspiring man of passion, high integrity and limitless energy who works productively with people to produce results that are empowering to them.

“He goes the extra mile, making phone calls to a college on behalf of a student, investigating the best possible solution to a troubled student’s issue, or making certain a student gets into the class they need to graduate,” a nomination letter for Whitley stated. “Gary Whitley’s spirit is infectious and his contributions go far beyond Bend Senior High School; he makes a tremendous impact on our community each and every day.”

Large Business of the Year: Webfoot Painting Co.

Webfoot Painting Co. is one of the premier painting contractors in Central Oregon.

The company, founded in 2003 by Gavin Hepp and Travis Ulrich, was originally developed as a means of financial support through college at the University of Oregon. In 2006, Webfoot Painting relocated from the Willamette Valley to Central Oregon. Since the move, it has grown from just a couple summertime helpers to 25 full-time employees and 14-16 seasonal painters. During Webfoot’s busiest months, employees may paint as many as eight to 10 homes per week.

“The key to our success lies with hiring good people and training and coaching them to become great leaders and managers,” the nominee application states. “Once a team member is well trained and has been bought into our system, we can put those leaders in the position to run systems that care for their employees, their customer and the project at hand.”

To support the community that supports them, Webfoot hasstarted two annual charity events: Carving for Kids, which benefits MountainStar Family Relief Nursery,andWebfoot’s $5,000 Painting Charity Giveaway that awards painting services to a family or non-profit in need.

Small Business of the Year: The Bend Radio Group

The Bend Radio Group began in 2000 with a vision to bring a major market “sound” to a small market radio and become the key player in Central Oregon media. Today, The Bend Radio Group has garnered more than 50 percent of the listening audience in the main demographic advertisers use and 40 percent of the radio revenue in the market.

“None of it would be possible without the dedication and heart demonstrated everyday by our staff,” the nominee form states. “The on-air personalities and programmers have a strategy of providing the best audio entertainment in the region.”

The status of the Bend Radio Group is one of fast-paced growth, with revenue shares increasing significantly.

“We look forward to continuing our growth, adding more jobs, increasing our listener share and helping to boost the local economy by providing results-driven advertising options to the businesses of Central Oregon.”

Nonprofit Organization of the Year: The Center Foundation

The Center Foundation (TCF) was formed by sports medicine physicians, Therapeutic Associates Inc. and other community members to create a nonprofit with the purpose of caring for the health and safety of young high school athletes. Currently, The Center Foundation places certified athletic trainers in four Bend-La Pine High Schools and Sisters High School. Additionally, the nonprofit provides outreach athletic training to Madras, Crook County, Culver, Gilchrist and Trinity Lutheran high schools.

“TCF believes that all kids benefit from being active, that every student should be able to play safe and that every kid should be able to engage in their sport regardless of ability to pay for medical care or physicals,” the nominee application states. “These kids don’t realize they have to live in those bodies forever. But we do and that’s why we have to keep doing this… for them.”

New and Emerging Business of the Year: Pure Barre

Pure Barre opened its doors in the Old Mill District in June 2014. The Bend studio, owned by local resident Erin Anderson, was the first studio of its kind to open in the state of Oregon. Anderson was passionate about the Purre Barre workout and her results and wanted nothing more than to inspire the community of Bend and share her love with everyone.

Pure Barre is a total body workout that utilizes the ballet barre to perform small, isometric movements.

“The first nine months of business have been filled with getting to know the amazing people in Central Oregon, partnering with local businesses and organizations and learning more about who our clients are and what they love most about Pure Barre,” the nomination form states. “We realize the community we live, work and play in is dedicated to a healthy life – and we are proud to contribute to this way of living.”

Entrepreneur of the Year: Call of the Wild Adventures Inc

Call of the Wild Adventures Inc. is a locally owned and operated adventure travel company run by women for women. It specializes in active vacations around the world, ranging from easy lodge trips with day hikes and wine tasting, to backpacking and trekking in exotic locations. All of the trip leadership is female and the clients are female.

Emilie Cortes has owned the business since November 2012. From 2013 to 2014, revenue has increased 195 percent. Cortes has focused on meeting and developing relationships with clients and guides. She has also invested in a new system to enable e-commerce and electronic data capture, as well as a new online trip management system to centralize client communication and creation of community before and after a trip.

“I have absolutely no shortage of ideas or vision about what I want to offer in the future,” wrote Cortes on her nomination form. “It’s my goal to be running the most unique and inspiring trips for women, not just the same old trips focused on gender.”

Healthy Workplace of the Year: Bend Research Inc.

Bend Research Inc., founded in 1975, is a cornerstone of the high-tech industry in Central Oregon. The company has not only contributed to the health of the local economy, but also its employees. Ninety-nine percent of the company’s colleagues are enrolled in the Engaged Wellness Program, a comprehensive program designed to encourage and support the health and well-being of Bend Research employees and their spouses. The program allows employees to pursue heath improvement goals that are right for them, and in-turn, Bend Research offers financial incentives.

“We have healthy, happy employees,” the nomination form states. “We have increased productivity, reduced turnover, improved morale, lower absenteeism and (created a) great professional image.”

Board of Directors Award of Distinction & Community Excellence: Brooks Resources Corporation

Brooks Resources Corporation has made a significant economic impact on our community. It’s demonstrated a commitment to community involvement and philanthropic programs as part of its core business values.

Brooks Resources celebrated is 45 th anniversary in 2014, making it one of the oldest and most respected developers in the area. Projects include, Northwest Crossing, Shevlin Health and Wellness and North Rim.

The company donates a minimum of 3 percent of its pre-tax profits to Central Oregon charitable endeavors annually. The Bend Foundation, a philanthropic organization established by Brooks-Scanlon Inc and shareholders of Brooks- Scanlon Resources, helps support a number of local programs including BendFilm, High Desert Chamber Music and Art in Public Places.

People’s Choice Award: Volunteers in Medicine Clinic of the Cascades

Volunteer in Medicine (VIM) cares for low-income adults in Central Oregon who don’t make enough money to afford health insurance or medical care.

Since the nonprofit opened in 2004, over 11,000 low-income, uninsured patients have made 72,000 visits to the VIM clinic. The value of the heathcare services and benefits provided to Central Oregon to date is estimated to be $62 million.

“VIM intends to be here until everyone has access to healthcare, and all of our volunteers are no longer needed,” the nomination form states. “In the meantime, we will continue to be awed by the work of these volunteers, and grateful to live in a community that has such a deep desire to help one another.”

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