One popular Oro Valley bakery and cafe was among the small businesses recently recognized by The Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce at the 20th annual Copper Cactus Awards earlier this month. 

Village Bakehouse was awarded its first Copper Cactus Award on Sept. 8, the Cenpatico Integrated Care Workforce Development award for businesses with three to 30 employees.

The bakery has a long history with Oro Valley locals. It started with artisan breads in 1996, specializing in European breads and sourdough, and slowly expanded into sandwiches and baked goods. Now in business for 21 years, the bakery has become a popular spot for baked goods, cakes and even a bit of breakfast or lunch. There’s a little something for everyone, whether it be plain, sweet or seasonal. The Cenpatico Integrated Care Workforce Development award is given to businesses which hire and train employees of various backgrounds, including former inmates and those struggling with addiction or mental health challenges. 

“I think it’s important for everyone to do,” said Paulette Griggs, Village Bakehouse owner, as she described the company’s hiring process. 

The bakery has followed that philosophy since its founding. After receiving the award, Griggs said the bakery intends to continue its hiring process just as it always has, by providing employment and an improved work environment for those with challenges in their lives. She said with this practice there is always good and bad, but that the good has helped the business grow. 

“Everyone deserves a place.” Griggs said. 

In her years with Village Bakehouse, Griggs said she has seen employees leave the company and then later return, thanking her for helping them through the challenges and healing processes in their personal lives. 

“We’re here to serve the community, and we’re here for all our customers.” Griggs said.

The Tucson Metro Chamber Copper Cactus Awards are designed to celebrate the small businesses in the Tucson area. 

“Small businesses do amazing things in our metro area, but often don’t receive the recognition they deserve,” said Michael Varney, Tucson Metro Chamber president and CEO. “Collectively, small businesses are the biggest employer we have.” 

The awards have six categories, including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona Best Place to Work, Cenpatico Integrated Care Workforce Development,  CopperPoint Small Business Leader of the Year, Cox Business Growth, Nextrio Innovation and Tucson Electric Power Charitable Non-Profit Business. 

According to Carissa Fairbanks, communications director for the chamber, businesses must follow a number of criteria to be eligible for an award.

For small businesses, it must be for-profit business, have been in business for more than two years, be locally owned and operated and must have three to 250 employees. Nonprofit organizations can be considered for nomination with a separate set of criteria, including a 501 (c)(3) charitable nonprofit designation, a Southern Arizona location, operate for more than two years and have a total revenue between $50,000 and $10,000,000.

Nominees are then sent a questionnaire application, which is submitted to a panel of judges. 

The judges score the applications and the cumulative scores determine the finalists and winner of the category. Recipients this year were selected by a panel of judges from 52 finalists and hundreds of nominees. 

Griggs said she was happy to have been nominated, came in with no expectation of winning and is grateful for the award. 

“It feels good to be recognized.” Griggs said.

Leah Gilchrist is a University of Arizona journalism student and Tucson Local Media intern.

(1) comment

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Regardless of how small a business is, offering it a recognition serves as a form of motivation. It will definitely see the need to improve its business even further to make it even higher in the corporate world. Such recognition from a reputable firm will also help to raise awareness of its business to the general public.

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