Eight local businesses, agencies and advocates have received the Golden Key Award, honoring their work to help promote employment opportunities for people with disabilities and including veterans. The awards were presented by the Utah Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities and the Department of Workforce Services’ Utah State Office of Rehabilitation as part of the Disability in Utah annual summit.

Each year, award recipients are nominated by their peers, employees and community partners for making the commitment to support people with disabilities and veterans through employment, including recruitment, training and workplace accommodations.

“It’s impossible to quantify the positive impact this year’s Golden Key Award winners have in their local communities and in the lives of those they employ and serve,” said Leah Lobato, director of the Utah Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. “Their leadership in hiring and supporting these skilled and qualified individuals is changing perceptions and raising the bar for corporate social responsibility in Utah and the nation.”

The Large Employer of the Year Award was presented to Rocky Mountain Power in Salt Lake City for its effort to provide appropriate workplace accessibility and accommodations for employees with disabilities. Texas Roadhouse in Sandy was recognized with the Medium Employer of the Year Award for making it a priority to hire individuals with disabilities from the local community. The Small Employer of the Year Award was given to Jessie Jean’s Cafe in Ogden for seeking opportunities to employ qualified individuals, regardless of their disability.

The Ace Award was presented to Jeffrey Jewett, co-founder of Spring Back Utah in Salt Lake City, for “seeing beyond a person’s disability and giving them a chance to restore hope and dignity through employment.” Simplus in Salt Lake City received the Freedom Award for showing commitment to hiring veterans. As a certified Vetforce partner, Simplus actively recruits veterans and military spouses and further supports them through training and skills development. 

The ASAP Award was given to the Utah Division of Juvenile Justice Services (JJS) for its participation in the Alternative State Application Program (ASAP) to recruit and hire employees with disabilities. ASAP helps job applicants have a fair and efficient experience through the recruitment process.

Southwest Behavioral Health Center received the Ag-ency Provider of the Year Award for its efforts to advocate for its clients in finding meaningful, competitive employment in their local communities throughout southern Utah. The Provider of the Year Award was presented to Jen Hammond, a job coach with Innovative Harbor in Tooele, for “going above and beyond in her work to create employment opportunities for her clients.”

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