Medical Mutual and Smart Business welcome you to the Pillar Award for Community Service. For more than two decades, the Pillar Awards have recognized organizations and individuals that are making positive impacts in their communities through volunteering, charitable giving, pro bono work and more.
At Medical Mutual, we challenge ourselves every day to “Be the Difference” — to our members, to each other and to the community. This is rooted in our refreshed mission: Uniting with our partners to help people live healthier through all stages of life. That mission drives the work we do with our nonprofit partners to improve the physical, financial and mental health of people across Ohio.
Our efforts address needed access points to care, connect community members with resources that assist in daily living and help remove the obstacles many Ohioans face, such as food insecurity, financial barriers to education and access to high-speed internet.
Foundational to Medical Mutual’s community support is our SHARE program. Through this volunteer initiative, our employees support dozens of nonprofits and community groups across the state each year. It’s an important way that Medical Mutual gives back to our communities, and one of the annual Pillar Awards recognizes a company whose employees best illustrate the values of the program.
This year’s Pillar Award recipients bring the strongest commitment to their communities. Medical Mutual is pleased to join Smart Business in honoring these organizations and individuals.
On behalf of Medical Mutual and Smart Business, congratulations to the 2024 Pillar Award honorees. ●
Pillar Award Honorees
“Our Reason is Water” is the mission behind Hilliard-based Advanced Drainage Systems (ADS).
As a local business and a contributor to improving communities, ADS focuses on impacting water and the environment. The company is a leading provider of innovative water management solutions in the stormwater and onsite septic wastewater industries, and in 2022, it created the ADS Foundation with a vision to lead the way in preserving clean water, promoting recycling and advancing community outreach through new opportunities.
The foundation’s three pillars, Water, Recycling and Community, laser focus the organization on ways it can contribute to improvements across Central Ohio and throughout the U.S. The ADS Foundation is committed to improving the availability and recovery of plastic waste while promoting a circular economy, increasing access to and enjoyment of clean water, ensuring conservation of wetlands and enhancing quality of life for the underserved.
Under the leadership of President and CEO Scott Barbour, ADS is continuing its collaboration with The Ohio State University as a founding member of The Sustainability Institute. Through this partnership, ADS works with students, faculty and staff to support stormwater management research. Additionally, ADS provides philanthropic support to numerous community stakeholders, including Nationwide Children’s Hospital, The Nature Conservancy, Habitat for Humanity, the Blue Jackets Foundation and Pelotonia.
Through philanthropic gifts, employee engagement and volunteerism, ADS is working to enhance freshwater resources, forge equitable access to water and restore natural infrastructure. In fiscal 2023, the company donated $4 million, $3 million of that through the ADS Foundation. ●
The Anthony-Thomas Candy Co. was founded in 1952 by the father-son team of Anthony and Thomas Zanetos in Franklinton, Ohio. Today, it is the Midwest’s largest family-run candy company, producing 60,000 pounds of confections each day in its 154,000-square-foot candy factory. National Sales Manager Nick Trifelos represents the family’s fifth generation as he works alongside his mother and grandfather.
Anthony-Thomas has always believed in the impact of community service. In January 2023, the company pledged to sponsor a space renovation as part of the expansion of the Ronald McDonald House of Columbus (RMHC). The Anthony-Thomas space will be called “A Sweet Gathering Place,” named by Vice President Candi Trifelos, and will include a full kitchen, bathroom and living room with a Murphy bed.
While staying at RMHC, many families experience holidays and birthdays, and this will give them a space to make those days as meaningful as possible. However, use is not limited to special occasions. The room can be utilized by local businesses and will double as an emergency space if volunteers need to stay the night.
In 2023, Anthony-Thomas announced the release of the first-ever Ronald McDonald House Chocolate Bar. The specially branded bars will be available each summer, and all profits will benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio. Additionally, the company reopened walk-in tours of its facilities, enabling the community to see the magic of chocolate. Available for all ages, the tour is handicap-accessible is and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant. ●
Under the leadership of Managing Partner John A. Brooks, BTTS Holdings has made giving back part of the way it does business.
The company owns and operates six unique, iconic event venues throughout Columbus — iBrookshire (Lewis Center), The Ellis (Italian Village), The Estate (New Albany), Lakeview at WatersEdge and The Cove at WatersEdge (Hilliard), and The FIG Room (Short North). Most recently, BTTS entered a strategic partnership and commenced operational responsibility for Vue Columbus.
Under Brooks’ leadership, the company has integrated giving back to the community in many ways, resulting in the small, family-owned business making a tremendous impact. Organizations that have benefited from BTTS’ financial donations, in-kind support and volunteer hours are numerous. Financial support through the BTTS Gives Back Program totaled $40,900 in 2022. During the same year, in-kind donations of surplus food and florals, in partnership with Food Rescue Columbus, enabled BTTS to donate 29,000 meals and repurpose 8,000 floral arrangements to support homeless shelters, soup kitchens, veterans’ facilities and senior centers. In 2023, the company donated over 9,700 pounds of food through Food Rescue Columbus.
A core value of the BTTS team is to “make a profit and a difference.” As a third-generation, Italian American, second-generation family business owner, Brooks practices what he preaches. He cares about his team, clients and the community and is committed to using his business in the hospitality industry to not only help people enjoy unforgettable events but to also serve as a beacon of good throughout Central Ohio. ●
Since 1993, Cameron Mitchell Restaurants Founder and CEO Cameron Mitchell has built a diverse portfolio of restaurants, ranging from upscale destinations to single-neighborhood favorites. Under his leadership, Cameron Mitchell Premier Events (CMPE) has also been a steadfast supporter of Flying Horse Farms for the past 12 years; the company has contributed over $158,000 to FHF and is fulfilling a five-year, $250,000 commitment.
FHF is a medical specialty camp that provides healing, transformative experiences for children with serious illnesses and their families, free of charge. Campers range in age from seven to 21 and have diagnoses including cancer, heart conditions, rheumatologic illnesses, blood disorders, lung conditions, gastrointestinal disorders, craniofacial diagnoses, rare diagnoses and mental health conditions.
Support from CMPE ripples beyond financial contributions as team members give their time, talent and treasure. When planning FHF’s annual Campfire event, CMPE employees come to the table with ideas for inspiring FHF guests and deepening their connection to the mission through a unique culinary experience. In addition to sharing their expertise, they donate product, creating an atmosphere that promotes generosity and increases support for FHF.
The thought partnership they bring elevates FHF’s annual Campfire event to fully embody the purpose of the night, bringing camp to life and engaging donors with FHF. Their presence causes a ripple effect that inspires other organizations and businesses to step forward with equal levels of heart and soul. FHF leaders summarize their CMPE partners as dedicated, ceaselessly creative and the epitome of first-class hospitality. ●
At its core, COhatch exists to help people, whether that be through its nonprofit, startup, and civic leader scholarships, networking opportunities and workshops, or lifestyle perks. And because of its restoration of unused/underused spaces, local governments seek COhatch out to put their historic buildings to use.
COhatch, led by Co-founder and CEO Matt Davis, attracts investors who have the desire to see communities impacted positively through COhatch’s services and Impact Programs. This leads to the ability to scale throughout the country and to impact more communities. Its model has been successful across the Midwest and south, and they look forward to continuing their growth with a local and community-driven mindset.
By simultaneously reimagining what coworking looks like and giving back to its communities, COhatch has become more relevant and needed than ever before. As hybrid and remote work have become the norm, people are no longer willing to make a long commute. COhatch exists in the suburbs and towns in which its members live, providing community and collaboration just a few minutes down the street from their homes.
COhatch realizes people are more than their work, so they provide amenities to help people outside of work too, equipping them to be a better parent, spouse, sibling, child, volunteer, neighbor, and more.
Through its Impact Programs, local nonprofits, startups and civic leaders are granted scholarships to utilize COhatch for free or at a highly discounted rate, helping them collaborate with their teams, meet with investors and board members, and host events. ●
Under the leadership of President and CEO John Ammendola, Grange Insurance believes in investing in the lives of others. Associates give their time, talent and resources to support causes that provide tools and resources for better communities. The company is improving access to education, revitalizing neighborhoods, helping fulfill basic needs and enhancing central Ohio by ensuring it is an inviting place to live, work and play.
Throughout 2023, Grange and its associates provided more than $1.8 million in financial support to nonprofit organizations, many of which are committed to advancing racial equality, meeting the needs of underserved communities, and supporting health and human service initiatives.
The Grange Insurance Gives private foundation carries out social responsibility efforts for the company, providing investments focused on education, the arts, social justice and community enrichment. Its comprehensive corporate philanthropy program encompasses financial contributions, board of directors’ services, in-kind print donations, volunteer time and rent-free use of event space for nonprofit community partners.
The company’s nearly 90-year-old story is rooted in the heart of Columbus. Leadership and philanthropy have been part of Grange’s vision from the start. The promise of service to customers and the community continues to pass from generation to generation. More than 1,200 associates are crucial to the company’s philanthropic efforts. Grange also honors associate commitment to service by offering paid volunteer time off, a corporate giving program and financial matching through the foundation. These efforts fuel economic prosperity and create sustainable solutions that will continue to change lives for years to come. ●
Huntington National Bank is a beacon of good for Central Ohio. Its philanthropic efforts support numerous causes and organizations doing much-needed work in the community.
Huntington’s unwavering support of OhioHealth’s Wellness on Wheels (WOW) Primary Care program exemplifies how the financial institution is making a difference. The grassroots initiative enables board-certified physicians, advanced practice providers, registered nurses, social workers and community health workers to meet people where they are.
In September 2023, the Huntington Foundation pledged a $1 million gift to WOW, furthering this critical outreach to continue offering essential services to people who may lack sufficient access to health care. OhioHealth’s WOW Women’s Health Clinic was established in 1993 to improve infant and maternal outcomes by providing comprehensive prenatal and postpartum care and health services to women throughout Central Ohio via mobile clinics.
In 2017, OhioHealth partnered with Huntington to launch the WOW Primary Care Clinic. Thanks to this investment, OhioHealth delivers comprehensive, reliable primary care directly to medically underserved neighborhoods, regardless of the patient’s ability to pay. The WOW mobile unit provides three strategic locations for comprehensive primary care: the Hilltop YMCA, Van Buren Shelter and Linden Opportunity Center. Services for adults include annual wellness exams, preventive health services and immunizations, sick visits, diabetes and hypertension screenings, and psychosocial needs evaluations.
Financial support from Huntington andOhioHealth’s WOW Primary Care has served over 6,100 patients since 2017. The program continues to expand its reach, bringing vital care and resources to vulnerable populations, reducing logistical and cultural barriers, and addressing social determinants of health. ●
Privately owned and operated, Meijer is committed to community service and bettering the lives of the people in the neighborhoods where its superstore customers and team members live and work. Company leaders are carrying on the legacy of the founder, Hendrik Meijer, who always said that if you take care of your customers, team members and community, they will take care of you.
Meijer engages with its communities in significant ways, including Simply Give, its signature hunger relief program. The hallmark of Meijer’s hunger relief efforts has helped local food pantries keep their shelves stocked year-round since 2008. Thanks to the continued generosity of Meijer customers, team members and food pantry partners, Simply Give has raised more than $84 million to feed hungry families nationwide.
Other philanthropic initiatives include support of community-based charities and events through financial contributions and countless volunteer hours. More than 6 percent of net profits are donated to charities each year.
Since opening its first Ohio store in 1981, Meijer has provided funding for numerous organizations in communities where its stores are located. Local organizations and events that Meijer supports include the Columbus Crew Football Club, The Ohio State University, the All Ohio Balloon Festival, the Columbus Children’s Festival and Picktown Palooza.
Meijer also gives to a wide range of organizations that are significant to individual Central Ohio communities. Sponsorships at its nine Greater Columbus stores include support for the YMCA, local schools, youth sports, toy drives, Pelotonia, domestic violence shelters, emergency services departments and local faith communities. ●
Community service is integral to the corporate social responsibility of MESH Works — a cloud-based sourcing, procurement and quality tool built for metal parts manufacturers —reflecting its commitment to giving back and positively impacting society.
Under the leadership of President and CEO Sahil Shah, MESH Works is committed to supporting the community through financial and volunteer contributions, and its employees have donated over 560 hours to nonprofits in Central Ohio in 2023. MESH’s founder, Metrics Holdings, established a charity trust in India, Metrics Charitable Trust. The trust participates in various philanthropic activities, including medical and educational help.
A significant initiative launched this year was the first Metrics Medical Center. This clinic, located in the village of Baroi (Kutch, Gujarat, India), is in a relatively remote and poor area. It serves a village of about 800 people and those in the surrounding area. Medical help is provided free or for up to 50 cents per visit, and diagnostic testing and medications are available.
MESH’s contributions to a diverse range of organizations demonstrate the company’s dedication to creating a better world. The company’s philosophy regarding community service revolves around fostering unity and cultural awareness and improving the quality of life for individuals in both local and global communities.
Through financial contributions, volunteerism and other forms of support, the company positively impacts education, culture, health care and more. MESH’s approach and philosophy toward community service exemplify the role of businesses in enhancing the well-being and cultural enrichment of the communities it serves. ●
Founded in 1893, Ohio-based Oswald Companies is one of the nation’s largest independent insurance brokerage and risk management firms. For 130 years, the company has shaped its business around four core values, one of which is Commitment to Community.
Oswald Columbus has been a full-service insurance and risk management firm since 2005, excelling in Employee Benefits, Property & Casualty Insurance and Retirement Planning. Helmed by Central Ohio Market Leader Jonathan Sadlier, Oswald Columbus employees are deeply involved in Central Ohio. The firm’s philosophy is that caring for the community and one another is at the heart of everything they do. Employees receive a paid Day of Caring each year, which they can use to volunteer for their favorite charity.
Additionally, days spent volunteering at the Mid-Ohio Foodbank highlight the immense need throughout the region. Employees volunteer together throughout the year, knowing they are helping their neighbors live easier, healthier lives.
Oswald Columbus provides financial contributions to charitable organizations throughout Central Ohio, including Volunteers of America Operation Backpack, holiday Adopt-a-Family events, the Family First Recovery Center, United Way Central Ohio, Lower Lights Christian Health Center, Mid-Ohio Foodbank, YWCA Columbus, Boys & Girls Clubs Central Ohio, the Childhood League Center and the Second and Seven Foundation.
While they will never fully realize the impact of their contributions and volunteerism, Oswald Columbus team members are making a difference. Employees appreciate the opportunity to step away from their desks and give back to the community that has given so much. ●
The Ohio State University College of Medicine is dedicated to transforming the health of communities through inclusive and innovative education, discovery and care. It is a leader in innovative programs, initiatives and curricula because of its collaborative spirit, clear vision and strong ability to continually evolve to meet ever-changing demands in medicine.
With more than 2,600 faculty members, 20 clinical departments, eight basic science departments and the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, the College of Medicine is committed to creating an institution that inspires excellence, curiosity and compassion. Its learners are empowered to think critically and become leaders in their fields. The college fosters a culture where people feel valued, are given the opportunity to thrive and excel, care for themselves and each other, and celebrate diversity.
Dr. Carol R. Bradford is the dean of The Ohio State University College of Medicine and vice president for Health Sciences at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. An internationally recognized head and neck cancer researcher, surgeon and leader in academic medicine, Dr. Bradford works to develop therapies to combat certain types of head and neck cancer that are resistant to traditional forms of treatment. As a collaborative leader, she unites people to address the most pressing health care challenges.
Rebecca Jackson, MD, considered the face of science at the College of Medicine and The Wexner Medical Center for two decades, passed away unexpectedly in October 2022. She was a remarkable humanitarian and leader who, through her transformative work, improved the lives of countless people. ●
Medical Mutual Share Award
With its District Charity of Choice program, White Castle Inc. empowers team members to influence corporate giving and fosters connections among customers, team members and the community organizations most important to them. Philanthropy has been in White Castle’s DNA since its 1921 origins, when founder E.W. “Billy” Ingram decreed that the company should invest in the future of others and give back to the communities that supported the new business.
America’s oldest fast-food hamburger chain is known for loyalty — for the borderline fanatical devotion of its customers, certainly, but also for the two-way loyalty between the company and its team members. In an industry not noted for employee longevity, the average tenure of a White Castle store general manager is 21 years.
District Charity of Choice, introduced during the company’s centennial celebration in 2021, marries White Castle’s community service imperative to its deep team member and customer bonds. Instead of all locations nationwide supporting a national charity with a round-up campaign, team members in each of the company’s 12 regions and at the corporate headquarters choose a handful of organizations to support. Within regions, each group of stores under a given district manager chooses a single charity.
Team members ask customers for round-up donations during two campaign periods each year — March 1 to April 30 and Oct. 1 to Dec. 31. The results have outstripped expectations, raising over $1.1 million for 48 charities nationwide in 2021 and 2022. In the Columbus region, the round-up campaign brought in $160,752 divided among Children’s Hunger Alliance, Habitat for Humanity, the Mid-Ohio Foodbank and Star House.
For 2023-24, Columbus-area restaurants are supporting Youth Advocate Services, the Columbus Dream Center and Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky & Indiana. The first cycle of the 2023-24 campaign raised more than $29,000 in Columbus and more than $607,000 nationwide.
Led by President, CEO and Board Chair Lisa Ingram, White Castle expanded the program this year to include the company’s production plants. Team members are given productivity and safety goals, and the company donates $1,000 for each goal achieved. For the first cycle, the bakeries, meat processing plants and retail manufacturing plant raised $26,000 for seven charities.
Localizing its corporate philanthropy has inspired both team members and customers. The campaigns engage customers and educate them about local organizations, and it is not unusual for regular customers to ask a team member, “How’d we do today?” ●
Nonprofit Board Executive of the Year Awards
Amy Franko is the immediate past chair of the board of directors for Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland (GSOH). As a top nonprofit organization in the region,
GSOH has consistently demonstrated its commitment to empowering and supporting girls as they discover who they are and how they can make the future a brighter place. Franko has played a pivotal role in steering the council toward its mission, while leaving a legacy that will significantly impact the region’s workforce development.
Franko served as the GSOH chair of the board of directors for a four-year term during a pivotal period in the organization’s history, leading the board of 21 directors through challenging and transformative times. One of the most notable achievements during Franko’s tenure was her leadership surrounding the Dream Big Transformational Initiative. Dream Big is a monumental $16 million capital campaign aimed at establishing a STEM and leadership center at Camp Ken Jockety in western Franklin County. The center is GSOH’s bold response to the Girl Scouts of the USA’s goal of putting 2.5 million girls in the STEM pipeline by 2025. Through this project, girls will have the tools necessary to create pathways to in-demand careers and bridge the gender gap in STEM fields.
Franko joined the GSOH board in 2014, initially serving on the Board Development Nominating Committee. Her exceptional leadership and unwavering commitment to the organization’s mission, coupled with her significant contributions to governance and board development, have made a lasting and transformative impact on GSOH and the community. ●
Over the past decade, Monsignor Joseph M. Hendricks has served on the Life Alliance Board of Directors and held multiple titles. Currently the immediate past chair, he coordinates strategic and direction planning.
Hendricks’ capacity for time management is inspiring. Despite being at retirement age, he works as the bishop’s delegate for community relations in the Diocese of Columbus, president and CEO of The Villas at St. Therese and vice president and COO of Seton Square Housing Corp. In addition, he continuously serves on multiple boards within the community.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Hendricks led the LifeCare Alliance Board of Directors as its chair, offering advice and direction, helping the organization meet the increased demand for services during the global crisis. In April 2023, client need increased by 63 percent and by more than 80 percent by year’s end. However, assisted by monsignor’s leadership, the Meals-on-Wheels program has never experienced a waitlist.
Hendricks consistently advocates for LifeCare Alliance, talking with community leaders about how the organization dedicates itself to the well-being of Central Ohio. He has maintained important partnerships with organizations such as United Way, YMCA and YWCA.
In addition to serving at LifeCare Alliance functions, Hendricks shares with local leaders and the Catholic diocese the multiple ways the organization supports the community. He also discusses fundraising and legislation. With the help of his numerous connections, LifeCare Alliance has raised funds to expand operations, during the pandemic and beyond. ●
A double graduate of The Ohio State University, India-born, Ireland-raised Neethi Johnson’s career spans health care, insurance, banking, finance, consulting and strategy functions. Equally important to Johnson is her involvement in the Columbus community, where she gives back through her board tenure, teaching and volunteerism. However, what sets Johnson apart is her charisma and passion for people.
Although her full-time job is in Digital Partnerships & Strategy at JPMorgan Chase, she serves as president of Student Success Stores’ Board of Directors. The local nonprofit helps schools throughout Central Ohio meet the basic needs of students from economically disadvantaged communities and remove barriers to learning created when life’s necessities are unavailable. By providing students with the essentials, the organization helps ensure that each child starts the school day healthy, confident and ready to learn.
Student Success Stores are filled with no-cost hygiene products, easy-to-eat food items, snacks and mobile meals, dress-code-compliant clothing and school supplies. The organization currently serves 15 schools in the Columbus City Schools District, and under Johnson’s leadership, Student Success Stores expanded into two additional buildings during the 2022-2023 school year. Alleviating the burden many families and teachers face in providing supplies, the support allows students to focus on school, learning and growth without worrying about unmet basic needs.
Johnson collaboratively leads a board of 13 young professionals from the Columbus community and five staff members, valuing every voice, opinion and contribution. She aims to grow the organization to reach every school in Central Ohio in need of support. ●
Nonprofit Executive Director of the Year
Karen Mozenter became CEO of Jewish Family Services in June 2019 after joining the agency as COO in 2017. With a background in law, education, nonprofits and philanthropy, she brings diverse experience and skills to the agency.
During her tenure at Jewish Family Services, Mozenter has driven impact across the organization and the community through compassion, innovation and collaboration. She has provided steadfast leadership during a string of world events that have impacted the agency’s staff, clients, board and supporters. From the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19 to the current Russia-Ukraine war, the Israel-Hamas conflict and the recent earthquake in Afghanistan, she consistently prioritizes the health and well-being of both staff and clients.
Mozenter has leaned into crafting the agency’s messaging to better convey its unique value and breadth of impact to community stakeholders. As she puts it, Jewish Family Services is unlike any other agency in Central Ohio. Staff members hail from 16 countries and speak two dozen languages.
The agency’s work is grounded in Jewish values that compel offering help to people from all backgrounds who are facing life’s challenges. This mindset builds bridges, breaks down barriers across communities and fights antisemitism.
Under Mozenter’s leadership, Jewish Family Services is well-positioned to address the challenges the region is facing–preparing the workforce and employers for anticipated rapid growth, supporting the burgeoning population of older adults, using technology to connect people with their community, and working alongside partners to address challenges including affordable housing and food security. ●
Founded in 1981, Opera Columbus (OC) brings the thrill and grandeur of opera to Columbus stages and engages new, diverse audiences with the magnificent art form. OC is expanding the possibilities of opera with productions and programs that celebrate emerging talent, inclusivity, fresh perspectives and modern technology.
Led by General Director and CEO Julia Noulin-Mérat, OC is Central Ohio’s premier professional opera company and one of the community’s flagship performing arts organizations. OC’s innovative productions and programs attract audiences to venues in Downtown Columbus and throughout Central Ohio, putting the community on the map as a destination for great opera and contributing to the city’s artistic vibrancy. Drawing attention from across North America and internationally, OC contributes to Columbus’ diverse and vibrant arts scene through original productions of works from across the operatic repertoire.
Noulin-Mérat joined OC in 2021, bringing a commitment to cultural equity and extensive experience with opera, theatre and television productions. Her vision is to provide economic opportunity and contribute to the vitality and livability of the region. That intentionality is evident as she builds a community in Columbus through the art of opera.
For the past three seasons, Noulin-Mérat committed to creating breathtaking art in an intentionally inclusive and accessible manner. During the 2022-2023 season, OC served over 59,000 individuals throughout Central Ohio and reached 1.2 million more through online media, community festivals and impact events. Recent audience growth averaged 29 percent, creating OC’s highest box office engagement in over 20 years. ●
Greg Davies has dedicated his career to being a servant leader for the greater good of Columbus. As CEO of the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation
(CDDC), he is improving the region in bold and dramatic ways as the humble, thoughtful architect of downtown’s future. He singlehandedly turned the once-insular CDDC into a collaborative community partner working to grow the city in ways that are inclusive and supportive of all.
Davies masterminded initiatives big and small, including opening The Peninsula — despite COVID-19 setbacks — building affordable housing, installing public art and incubating retail. He enlists input, finds the right people to execute and advocates effectively. His work is paying off — Columbus is ranked among the top five cities nationally in downtown recovery post-pandemic.
In 2022, 27 downtown projects worth $1.5 billion were proposed, 22 worth $688 million were under construction and 13 worth $526 million were completed. Additionally, people are returning to the downtown area. With more than 4.6 million visitors in 2022, nearly 90,000 employees are back to work in the area, and the residential population is expected to grow to 16,500 by 2025.
A true servant leader, Davies’ ability to collaborate and mobilize others to get things done is his superpower. After decades spent earning credibility and building trust, he is harnessing that goodwill for the betterment of downtown and the city at large. Partnering with city officials, local businesses and residents has enabled the CDDC to raise funds and work strategically as the region’s leader for all things downtown. ●
Kent Clapp CEO Leadership Award
COhatch Co-founder and CEO Matt Davis is committed to strengthening communities, improving lives and equipping people to be greater in all aspects of their lives.
COhatch was founded in 2016 with six friends who wanted to reinvent the way they work, meet and live. Since then, the organization has expanded throughout five states, with 36 locations open or under development. The company has also rolled out perks for members, including a digital platform called COhatch+.
Throughout this expansion, Davis and the COhatch team have remained true to themselves and their original mission of keeping a local and people-driven focus, renovating underused or unused buildings and helping startups, nonprofits and civic leaders in their communities through scholarships. Davis and his team have a vision to build communities of people who help one another, share resources and knowledge, and develop a good quality of life — all while giving back locally.
COhatch’s business partners and founders are deeply invested in the mission and culture of the organization, from the design and construction of spaces to building relationships with members, investors and cities. Davis does not just lead a company; he leads a team that is like family and truly wants to see his communities impacted for good through COhatch’s services and programs.
COhatch has also impacted the community in numerous ways. A huge part of its mission is to revitalize underused or unused buildings to give them new life and bring people together within their walls again. COhatch incorporates the history of the neighborhood and building into the design through artwork and room names, and the founders have remained committed to restoring historic buildings and staying local as they have expanded nationally.
Upon seeing the company’s success in bringing communities together, many local governments seek out COhatch to restore unused buildings in their cities. Additionally, investors are attracted to COhatch because of its unique culture, diversity of services and the community impact it is making. COhatch continues to grow and expand, showing that it is a model that people across the country want to replicate.
Giving back to the community is part of COhatch’s mission. Through its Impact Programs, local nonprofits, startups and civic leaders are granted scholarships to utilize COhatch for free or at a highly discounted rate. These scholarships give organizations and individuals the space to collaborate with their teams, meet with investors and board members and host events — enabling them to flourish and grow. ●