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30th Annual AGORA Awards: Winners Announced

(SPOKANE, Wash.) — Greater Spokane Incorporated recently announced the winners of the 2015 AGORA Awards that took place at The Spokane Convention Center on June 3rd. The AGORA Awards recognize businesses in our region that exemplify leadership in supporting a strong economy and quality of life. The winners were selected by an independent team of volunteer judges who carefully consider company growth, marketing strategy, employee environment, response to adversity, customer service, strategic planning, creativity and contribution to the regional economy.

The 2015 AGORA Award winners are:

Small Business
DATARANG LLC

In a previous life, co-founder Chris Rostie provided expertise for tech powerhouses like Alcatel and Packet Engines. His co-founding partner, Eric Phillips, supported the likes of Disney, Clearwire, Paccar, and Safeco. Together, Eric and Chris are so effective at providing remote IT solutions, that customers won’t tell others about them because they consider their services such a significant competitive advantage that they’d rather keep it a secret. DATARANG provides outsourced remote IT services to organizations in 10 states, and a long list of local nonprofits benefit from their expertise, either for free or at a significantly reduced rate. Currently they’re knee-deep in efforts to bring Google fiber to Spokane.

Medium Business
Ptera

Ptera is a local full-service telecommunications provider that serves the Inland Northwest with internet business phone solutions — proving particularly valuable to rural customers who previously had limited, or no, connectivity options. They continue to build-out and improve their network and have more than 150 broadcast locations, including free hotspots they’ve donated to cover several area public spaces, including Pavilion Park, the Dwight Merkel Sports Complex and most of the 100 acres of Riverfront Park. Ptera greatly values their employees and believes in doing things the right way, not just the way that generates the most profit.

Large Business
Avista

AGORA judges were impressed with the depth of investment Avista has made in our community, as a corporation, and through their support of employee volunteerism. Avista continually invests in making our region a better, healthier, more sustainable place to live, and they strive to enhance the quality of life for all of our region’s residents through their support of many nonprofit and community initiatives. Avista’s service to our community over the past 125 years is commendable.

Small Nonprofit
The Exchange Club of Downtown Spokane

The Exchange Club of Downtown Spokane’s promotion of Americanism, Community Service, Child Abuse Prevention, and Youth Recognition is worthy of the AGORA award. Year after year they continue to make a positive impact on people’s lives without recognition from the members of the community in which they serve. The Exchange Club brings together members from our regional community to drive change in areas that otherwise may go unserved. They strive to support child abuse prevention programs, educate our young people, and they promote citizenship and volunteering.

Large Nonprofit
Goodwill Industries of the Inland Northwest

Goodwill’s business-style approach of turning household donations into wealth that benefits the less fortunate in our community is well-deserving of the Agora award. Goodwill Industries of the Inland Northwest works to change lives in a positive way as they turn waste into wages and help people find independence through jobs. Goodwill leverages resources and relationships to create greater impact and positive change for our community. Their strategic partnerships keep our community working together as one. In addition, they convert 20 million pounds of donations each year into dollars to support vital programs and services for our community.

Entrepreneurial Spirit Award
Spokane Hoopfest Association

Hoopfest began as an idea that has evolved into the greatest 3-on-3 basketball tournament in the world, but it’s so much more than that. In addition to a massive annual financial boost to Spokane, Hoopfest is a mission-based organization that actively seeks and creates ways to serve our community. The Hoopfest Association’s AAU Basketball Program, and other youth basketball programs, along with the $1.6 million in community donations they have made over the years, makes them stewards of the Entrepreneurial Spirit.

Community Service Award
F5 Networks

F5’s approach to community service is a team effort. When it comes to supporting local charities, the entire staff gets involved. Through the F5 Challenge: Say Thanks, Give Back campaign, funds have gone to several regional charitable organizations. F5 was a 2014 Relay for Life corporate sponsor, and over the past three years more than $20,000 has been raised for the American Cancer Society. Over the past four years, Northwest Harvest has received almost $43,000 in charitable contributions from F5 alone. In addition to their fundraising efforts, F5 also donates time and know-how — staff lead a local high school robotics team and they’re involved in area STEM events. They also work with local colleges to focus on training and education opportunities that help ensure that high-quality prospects will stay — and find great career options — here on the east side of the state.

About the AGORA Awards

The AGORA Awards have been a staple of Spokane’s business community for the past 30 years and recognize business excellence throughout the region. Nominees are solicited by Greater Spokane Incorporated and asked to complete a questionnaire. Twenty volunteer judges from various local businesses determined semi-finalists based on the questionnaire. The judges then chose finalists and conducted formal interviews to determine the AGORA Award winners.

About Greater Spokane Incorporated

Greater Spokane Incorporated (GSI), the Spokane region’s Chamber and Economic Development organization, has been creating something greater for Spokane and the Inland Northwest since 1881. GSI is charged with the mission of growing jobs and business investment through robust programs in economic and workforce development, public policy and small business. GSI is funded through a combination of private and public investment, including 1,200 private-sector member investors; Spokane County; Washington State Department of Commerce; and the cities of Spokane, Spokane Valley, Cheney, Liberty Lake, Medical Lake and Newport, as well as the Kalispel Tribe of Indians. For more information, visit greaterspokane.org or contact us at 509.624.1393 or 1.800.SPOKANE.

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