The Western Maricopa Coalition, Westmarc, presented its 2020 Best of the West awards during an Oct. 22 dinner at Phoenix Raceway.
Desert Microsoft won for economic engine, Ottawa University — which includes the OUAZ campus in Surprise — for excellence in innovation, Verizon Wireless for quality of life enhancement in the community and Abrazo Health residency program for quality of life enhancement in education.
“Even in pandemic, we received many equally strong nominations this year. This is definite indication that the West Valley’s economy is still growing and expanding with quality investments,” Westmarc President and CEO Sintra Hoffman said. “Westmarc is proud to honor these outstanding individuals and organizations making a great impact in the West Valley.”
Additionally, the Westmarc Board of Directors recognized individuals and projects that inspire leadership and advances the West Valley.
One was Western Maricopa Education Center. Better known as West-MEC, the public career technical education district has its Northwest campus and Dysart and Grand avenues in Surprise.
The West Valley Regional Advancement Award is presented annually to a group, person or organization that WESTMARC believes has strengthened and transformed the West Valley’s position for economic growth.
Phoenix Vice Mayor Betty Guardado nominated West-MEC for the award.
“On the west side of Phoenix we struggle with our graduation rates and kids dropping at an early age because they don’t have a vision for their future. When I toured a West-MEC campus I was blown away by the programming and support they offered students. West-MEC provides a pipeline to good jobs and a future for our young people,” Guardado said.
West-MEC Superintendent Greg Dononvan accepted the award, as it highlighted the efforts of West-MEC staff and more than 39,000 students taking CTE courses as part of sponsored programs.
“All these things will help project young people into a bright, economically viable future right here in our West Valley,” Donovan said.
This year was especially important as 2020 marks Westmarc’s 30th anniversary.
“I’m thrilled that we were able to hold this unique event in person and virtually through partnerships with Phoenix Raceway for an outdoor event and with AMR for safety checks,” board Chairman Jon Howard said.