Essex wins Community Applause Award

Posted: Fri, Jan 04 2019 12:00 am

The Oregon Bankers Association (OBA), in partnership with Oregon Business magazine, has announced that Essex General Construction (“Essex”) based in Eugene and Portland, Oregon is the recipient of OBA’s 2018 Community Applause Award. The Community Applause Award, which is given to an Oregon business in acknowledgement of their significant service and contributions to their community, was presented to Essex during a banking industry luncheon held December 4 in Portland.

Founded in 1996, the Community Applause Award is a competition in which banks doing business in Oregon nominate a business customer that gives back to their community in significant ways. An independent panel of judges carefully reviews each nomination and votes on the winner. Since the award’s inception, 41 Oregon businesses have been recognized, including this year’s honoree.

Essex General Construction was nominated for the Community Applause Award by Craig Wanichek, president and chief executive officer of Eugene-based Summit Bank. In his nomination Wanichek stated, “Essex is a true hero amongst our community. They go the extra mile to make lives – and everything they touch – better. At Summit Bank, we couldn’t think of a more giving community partner. It is our honor to nominate Essex for this award.”

Essex General Construction is a commercial general contractor with offices in Eugene and Portland. Created in 1987 by Jon Texter, Essex employs between 70-90 people. Their success as a company has enabled them to expand over the years; and as they’ve grown, so too has their commitment to the community.

Essex has a long history of supporting local nonprofits, especially those that help the underserved. Hunger continues to be a growing problem in Lane County, and Essex believes it is their responsibility to support solutions that alleviate hunger. One way they do so is by supporting their local food bank, FOOD for Lane County. Essex built FOOD for Lane County’s headquarters, and they are currently working on a new warehouse. Over the years, Essex has donated over $70,000 to the local food bank.

This year, the leadership at Essex was especially concerned that kids eligible for free breakfasts and lunches at school could go hungry during the summer months. Essex partnered with the local NPR radio affiliate, KLCC, for a campaign called “Feed Your Radio, Feed a Child.” Representatives from Essex and KLCC recorded multiple radio spots designed to educate community members about the need, and to give them an opportunity to solve it. For every donation of $75 or more to KLCC, Essex donated 10 lunches to children participating in FOOD for Lane County’s Summer Food Program. The joint campaign raised $26,000 for the station and $5,000 from Essex towards free meals. The $5,000 from Essex was doubled thanks to a match from CenturyLink. The campaign was so successful FOOD for Lane County reached a record number of children this past summer.

Essex also believes the arts play a key role in enriching the lives of those in their community. Essex was recently honored as the “Outstanding Business Patron of the Arts” by the Arts & Business Alliance of Eugene for their ongoing support for local arts organizations and for the art and creativity they incorporate into their office, business and practices. Last year, Essex provided matching funds for an artist in residence at Fairfield Elementary School in the Bethel School District. The school did not have its own art teacher. This year, Essex doubled their donation and is working with the business community to collect additional donations so that all 27,000 children in the district’s elementary schools will receive at least two weeks of arts education during the 2018-2019 school year.

Another priority issue at Essex is homelessness and affordable housing. They have been a long-time supporter of Cornerstone Community Housing, a nonprofit that provides housing and support services to low-income residents. This year, Essex co-sponsored Cornerstone’s fundraising luncheon and donated tickets to families living in Cornerstone communities to attend a professional ballet performed at The Hult Center for the Performing Arts.

Essex has also supported Square One Villages, a nonprofit that creates self-managed communities of cost-effective tiny homes. When it was time to construct tiny homes in Eugene’s “Emerald Village” community, Essex stepped up to build two – more than any other contractor in the community. Their contribution meant two families would no longer have to struggle with homelessness. In addition, Community Supported Shelters (CSS), a nonprofit that produces simple shelter solutions and provides community for the homeless, has been fortunate to receive cash donations, building supplies and tools from Essex. The leadership at Essex was compelled to bring all of their employees to tour a CSS Safe Spot Community to breakdown the stereotypes associated with homelessness, and to better understand the circumstances in which it occurs.

OBA President and CEO Linda Navarro presented Essex General Construction CEO Jon Texter with the Community Applause Award, along with two $500 checks payable to nonprofits selected by Essex: Community Supported Shelters and Sponsors, Inc., which helps people who have served time in prison make a successful reentry into the community.

Image Essex wins Community Applause Award

Pictured from left to right: Bill Whalen, senior vice president and chief lending officer, Summit Bank; Gary O'Connell, senior vice president and market president for central Oregon, Summit Bank; Connie Rolfe, chief financial officer, Essex; Craig Waniche

Image 2 Essex wins Community Applause Award

Image 3 Essex wins Community Applause Award