Colorado Springs Chamber names Kent Fortune top business leader

By: Wayne Heilman

November 4, 2017 Updated: November 4, 2017 at 9:07 pm

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Enchanted Weekend Gala: Stephannie Finley Fortune and Kent Fortune 081917 Photo by Linda Navarro

Kent Fortune, vice president and general manager of USAA’s Colorado Springs regional office, was named Business Citizen of the Year on Saturday by the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce & EDC.

The award was among five presented by the chamber during its annual gala at The Broadmoor hotel.

Fortune supervises nearly 1,800 employees, a 65 percent increase since he was named general manager in 2011, and led an expansion that included a multimillion-dollar renovation of USAA’s Briargate offices. The company has been ranked as the state’s top workplace by The Denver Post twice in the past three years.

He is a board member of the Southeastern Colorado chapter of the American Red Cross, the Pikes Peak United Way and the Chancellor’s Leadership Class at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, where he received a bachelor’s degree in business.

“For nearly three decades, Kent has dedicated his knowledge, skills and passion to USAA, and over that time has propelled the organization as a top employer, high-performing business and reliable economic contributor in Colorado Springs,” chamber CEO Dirk Draper said in a news release. “Kent is a steadfast and enthusiastic community leader who believes in Colorado Springs and works vigorously to influence our city’s quality of life for its citizens.”

The award is the top honor given by the chamber and recognizes someone who contributes to the economic growth and prosperity of the Colorado Springs area, is involved in improving the community through active civic participation and demonstrates a willingness in assist in business and community projects.

The other awards presented by the chamber:

– Company of the Year: Defense contractor Polaris Alpha received the award for making five acquisitions during the past 12 months that broadened its reach in the space and command, control, computers, communication, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance market for its military and intelligence customers.

Polaris Alpha employs 1,300 on a variety of Department of Defense and intelligence-related contracts from major offices in Colorado Springs, Alexandria and Fredericksburg, Va., and Aberdeen Proving Ground and Annapolis Junction, Md.

– New Business of the Year: Local startup FoodMaven buys surplus food – mostly meat, produce, dairy and baked items – from grocery stores and distributors and sells it to restaurants, institutional kitchens and commercial food preparation businesses in the Colorado Springs and Denver areas by acting as a middleman between buyers and sellers through its online marketplace and fleet of vans and trucks.

The company plans to expand from 33 employees to 200 in the next year. The company plans to operate in up to 100 major cities within five years with further plans to grow to $1 billion in revenue.

– Community Investment of the Year: Westside Investment Partners spent $3.5 million renovating the former Verizon complex at 2424 Garden of the Gods Road a year after buying the 683,000-square-foot complex for $31 million.

Upgrading the property with state-of-the-art amenities should help Westside attract new employers to fill the 450,000 square feet that’s for lease, which is the largest block of office space available statewide. Westside also owns Victory Ridge, the former Colorado Crossing mixed-use project in the InterQuest business park.

– Military Affairs Award of Excellence: Larry D. Fortner, a retired Air Force major general who is a member of the Air Force Academy’s first graduating class and served in operational command, staff, combat, flight test and foreign advisory posts, including assignments in Germany, Taiwan, Turkey and Vietnam.

He retired from the Air Force in 1992 and spent 13 years with Northrop Grumman’s space technology operation in Colorado Springs. He has served on the boards of the academy’s Association of Graduates, the Air Force Association, the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the National Defense Industrial Association, the USO of the Pikes Peak Region and the chamber’s Military Affairs Council.

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