A Pasco minority-owned business is one of seven in the state to be recognized by the University of Washington's Foster School of Business.
Indian Eyes, a nationwide contracting company that works with federal projects like Hanford, received the SE Washington Minority Business of the Year award in Seattle on Thursday night.
It's the 13th year the University of Washington has presented the awards, said Michael Verchot, director of the Business and Economic Development Center at the University of Washington's Foster School of Business.
It is important to recognize successful and growing businesses, Verchot said. And minority-owned businesses can be an under-appreciated aspect of the state's economy.
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The 50 largest minority-owned businesses in the state will represent about $3 billion of the state's economy this year, Verchot said. In 1999, when the awards program began, they represented $1 billion.
The company's president, Roxie Schescke, is Native American.
Indian Eyes was chosen for the award based on its growth, employee relations and community involvement.
Between 2009 and 2010, Indian Eyes almost doubled its revenue from $12.5 million to a little more than $22 million, Verchot said.
The business also grew from 25 to 50 employees, he said. And the company works outside of the Tri-City region. Indian Eyes also has offices in Colorado and Virginia.
Indian Eyes was a top scorer for valuing employees, including promoting from within and offering options to improve employees' skills, Verchot said. That's based on self-reporting and a survey of employees.
And Indian Eyes is involved in the community. The staff and senior leadership of the company are involved in community boards as well as with state and regional contractor associations, he said. They have donated to nonprofits including the American Red Cross and charities that work with tribes.
For example, in February, Schescke and Indian Eyes helped collect items for Yakama Nation families who lost their homes in a fire in White Swan.
In the Tri-Cities, the company also has supported tours of the historic Hanford B reactor by hiring tour guides.
The company also works to be environmentally friendly, including using solar-powered generators and solar-powered light towers at job sites, Verchot said.
The Herald wasn't able to reach Schescke for comment Thursday.
Indian Eyes isn't the first Tri-Cities area business to be recognized by an award. In 2007, Apollo Inc. of Kennewick received the statewide William D. Bradford Minority Business of the Year award.
In addition to the awards, Verchot said the Foster School of Business also holds small business seminars in the Tri-Cities. In 2012, he said it hopes to grow that effort.