The St. Louis Regional Chamber honored top companies and organizations that are contributing to the St. Louis region’s economic growth at the 7th Annual Arcus Awards event on Thursday, February 27, 2020. The Academy Awards-style program, presented by RubinBrown LLP, honored the achievements of companies and organizations that are inspiring a greater St. Louis. Over 700 executives, entrepreneurs, and civic leaders registered to attend the dinner program at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis.

Out of hundreds of nominations, a panel of business leaders, scholars and executives selected ten award winners based on their contributions to St. Louis’ economy and quality of life. The categories honor leadership in corporate citizenship, entrepreneurship, public policy, inclusive business solutions, infrastructure and transportation, workforce development and talent attraction, technological advancement and cultural engagement. The Arcus Awards categories also included regional economic impact for companies that created jobs in our region from October 1, 2018, until September 30, 2019.

The winner of the Arcus People’s Choice Award was In-Person Away Virtual Events, LLC, who received the most votes among over 30,000 individual votes from across the region.

The 7th Annual Arcus Awards winners are:

  • Ameren Corporate Citizen Award – Little Bit Foundation
  • BMO Harris St. Louis Spirit Award – Center for Clinical Pharmacology, St. Louis College of Pharmacy and Washington University School of Medicine
  • Achievement in Entrepreneurship: Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) St. Louis Metro
  • Achievement in Inclusive Business Solutions: Challenge Unlimited
  • Achievement in Infrastructure & Transportation: Citizens for Modern Transit
  • Achievement in Public Policy: Fathers and Families Support Center
  • Achievement in Technology: FormFast
  • Achievement in Regional Economic Impact: Square
  • Achievement in Workforce & Talent Development: Tarlton Corporation
  • Achievement in Cultural Engagement: Lodging Hospitality Management (LHM) 
  • People’s Choice Award: In-Person Away Virtual Events, LLC

RubinBrown Chairman, John Herber Jr., said, “RubinBrown’s actions and investments in the St. Louis community are guided by our core values which can be most simply summarized as ‘Be Your Best For Others.’  This involves a commitment to service, excellence and caring for the St. Louis community, our clients and each other. We celebrate each of these inspiring companies for their achievements and their commitment to being their best for others.”

Arcus is the Latin word for “arch” and symbolizes the Gateway Arch, the unifying symbol of our bi-state region. All of the award finalists, comprised of companies and organizations of all sizes throughout the bi-state region, were showcased in video segments during the event.

The Arcus Awards winners by category are:

Ameren Corporate Citizen Award - For enhancing the quality of life and making positive changes that impact St. Louisans across the social, cultural and economic spectrum through philanthropic giving, community involvement by employees and/or partnerships with state and local governments.

Winner: Little Bit Foundation

Little Bit Foundation was formed in 2001 when the founders became aware of the many unmet needs in St. Louis schools and communities and the impact of school success. Today, Little Bit is in 42 school communities where 90 to 100% of students qualify for free/reduced lunch. Volunteers work one-on-one with nearly 14,000 students across every grade level. The Little Bit Foundation addresses challenges such as food insecurity, undiagnosed health conditions, lack of winter clothing and proper hygiene products, and insufficient reading materials at home. Little Bit’s 25 staff and over 200 regular volunteers work with dozens of community partners including Cigna/Express Scripts, St. Louis Area Foodbank, PACE Properties, Schnucks, St. Louis County Library, Operation Food Search and many more. The Little Bit Foundation is committed to breaking down barriers to learning for students living in poverty through partnerships and programs that serve the needs of the whole child.

Other finalists:

  • Eckert’s Country Store and Farms
  • AT&T
  • Together Credit Union


BMO Harris Bank St. Louis Spirit Award - For risk-taking, advancing on innovation, cutting-edge technology, or industry best practice that extends St. Louis’ rich history and global reputation as a hub of innovation and forward-looking vision.

Winner: Center for Clinical Pharmacology – St. Louis College of Pharmacy and Washington University School of Medicine

Center for Clinical Pharmacology, St. Louis College of Pharmacy and Washington University School of Medicine was created in 2015 as an unprecedented joint research venture between St. Louis College of Pharmacy and Washington University School of Medicine to find safer and more effective ways of using prescription medications. The Center received millions of dollars in national grant funds to support state-of-the-art research focused on the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, neurodegenerative disorders, traumatic injuries that occurred during military service, chronic pain and metabolic disease. Most recently, researchers at the Center learned that blocking the kappa-opioid receptor increases an individual’s drive to pursue pleasure, which has strong implications in combating the opioid crisis. The Center’s work has the capacity to positively impact the lives of countless individuals and health care providers.

Other finalists:

  • Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition
  • The Community Reinvestment Initiatives Team at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
  • Cannonball

Achievement in Regional Economic Impact – For the creation of quality new jobs in the St. Louis region from the period of October 1, 2018 through September 30, 2019. Nominees were, but are not limited to: commercial, retail, manufacturing, any type of for-profit or not-for-profit business in the Metropolitan St. Louis Region.

Winner: Square

Square is a hardware, software and payments company founded in 2009 by St. Louis natives Jack Dorsey (co-founder of Twitter) and Jim McKelvey. Square first opened offices in St. Louis in 2016 in the booming Cortex Innovation District. The St. Louis location is the company’s second-largest office after its San Francisco headquarters, employing around 650 people. Recently, Square signed a 15-year lease at the former St. Louis Post-Dispatch building at 900 N. Tucker and will move all employees to the downtown location with the capacity to grow up to 1,400 employees. The company has also begun to hire more local software engineers and Dorsey says he would like to see grow to 40% of the St. Louis Square workforce. 

Other finalists:

  • Holtec Gas Systems
  • CD Companies (formerly CASCO + R|5)

Achievement in Workforce & Talent Development - For providing leadership through the creation of a program or initiative that promotes college degree attainment, improved educational outcomes or on-the-job training.

Winner: Tarlton Corporation

Tarlton Corporation is a women-owned privately-held general contracting and construction management firm with clients in the commercial, institutional and industrial markets with special expertise in concrete construction and restoration. Tarlton launched a collaborative pilot program with BJC HealthCare to address a growing concern their respective industries share: not enough young people are informed about or considering careers in construction or health care. The team coordinated learning activities for young people, converting a construction trailer into a Career Resource Center on the site of the new Siteman Cancer Center at Northwest HealthCare, part of Christian Hospital. More than 335 students visited the Resource Center during 43 separate school visits to learn from industry experts, enjoy simulated job experiences and tour hospitals and construction sites. Together, Tarlton and BJC HealthCare are addressing workforce challenges using innovative and inclusive solutions.

Other finalists:

  • St. Louis Community College
  • Madison County Employment & Training Department
  • Starkloff Disability Institute

Achievement in Public Policy - For providing leadership through the creation of a program or initiative that unites the public and private sectors to advance and secure policy necessary to make St. Louis a better place to live, work and invest.

Winner: Fathers and Families Support Center

Fathers and Families Support Center (FFSC) has been a staple for families in the community for 22 years, transforming men into responsible and involved fathers and reuniting them with their sons and daughters. FFSC also provides comprehensive co-parenting programs for mothers and supports youth ages 14-21 with its Youth Leadership and Development program. Since 2015, FFSC has offered Parenting In Partnership, a project designed to support women in their efforts to become positive role models and proactive mothers for their children. Through their programs and resources, FFSC has impacted the lives of almost 40,000 children in our community.

Other Finalists:

  • Missouri Foundation for Health
  • Construction Forum STL
  • Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan St. Louis

Achievement in Entrepreneurship - For providing leadership through the launch or growth of a start-up company, contributions to forming early-stage capital, or supporting entrepreneurship training.

Winner: Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) St. Louis Metro

Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) St. Louis Metro has developed the entrepreneurial mindset in more than 2,000 youth ages 11 to 18 from under-resourced communities since 2013. NFTE St. Louis Metro staff and volunteers aim to serve an additional 800 youth in the bi-state region by 2020. Their uniquely powerful model for K-12 education brings the entrepreneurial mindset to the classroom through experiential activities, mentorship and work-based learning. Beyond the school experience, NFTE St. Louis launched the Emerging Entrepreneurs Microloan Capstone program for top aspiring young entrepreneurs in partnership with the St. Louis Community Credit Union and Prosperity Connection to receive financial literacy education, seed capital and mentorship. NFTE St. Louis Metro has shaped young minds by instilling entrepreneurial skills and resources.

Other Finalists:

  • Venture Café St. Louis
  • Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • UMSL Accelerate – University of Missouri-St. Louis

Achievement in Inclusive Business Solutions - For a corporation or diverse business owner demonstrating exemplary work in the area of inclusive business solutions by achieving measurable growth in the business enterprise over a 1-year period [October 1, 2018 through September 30, 2019] or has implemented an innovative solution which includes a diverse business enterprise.

Winner: Challenge Unlimited

Challenge Unlimited is a mission-driven social enterprise that provides training, housing solutions and employment opportunities to individuals with disabilities, the disadvantaged and veterans. In 2018, the organization established an apprenticeship program in janitorial services that provides participants with hands-on professional development and training and was awarded a janitorial contract through the 22nd Judicial Court Circuit of Missouri, creating 30-35 new jobs. A new staffing office was opened in Maryland Heights in August 2018, which focuses on placing individuals with disabilities, veterans and the disadvantaged into a wide range of temporary-to-permanent positions with regional businesses. In 2019, Challenge Unlimited formed a strategic alliance with Project Inc. (now Project CU Inc.), increasing the availability of resources, work and training programs for individuals with disabilities in the St. Louis community. These resources and employment opportunities have addressed the regional employment gaps and make the St. Louis region a more inclusive place to work.

Other Finalists:

  • Humans of St. Louis
  • Armstrong Teasdale

Achievement in Technology - For the development and use of technology in area of manufacturing, IT, financial services, biosciences, health, logistics, robotics, AI, etc.

Winner: FormFast

FormFast has grown from its roots as a developer of electronic health forms to an enterprise-level document automation company catering to the health care industry. FormFast has remained longtime industry leaders in healthcare record technology by focusing on the entire process of collecting patient information and helping health care organizations streamline operations to better serve patients. For 27 years, this St. Louis-based health IT company has empowered over 1,100 health care organizations to help both clinicians and patients communicate more effectively.

Other Finalists:

  • In-Person Away Virtual Events, LLC
  • Leidos

Achievement in Infrastructure and Transportation - For any company, organization or agency that has shown leadership and creativity for innovative programs relative to transportation and infrastructure in the St. Louis Region. This includes, but is not limited to roadways, bridges, airports, railway, waterways, structures, etc.

Winner:  Citizens for Modern Transit

Citizens for Modern Transit is the region’s transit advocacy organization working to develop, support and enhance programming and initiatives to ensure safe and convenient public transportation. The innovative and award-winning Guaranteed Ride Home, Ten Toes Express and Try & Ride programs have collectively attracted more than 15,000 area residents to public transit and turned many first-time transit users into regular transit commuters. CMT also actively convenes local, state and federal stakeholders to address important transit-related issues like public safety, transit-oriented development and transit funding to help strengthen the St. Louis region’s public transit system.

Other Finalists:

  • Bi-State Development
  • Landmarks Association of St. Louis

Achievement in Cultural Engagement (Sports, Arts, Culture & Entertainment) - For the best example of leadership in organizing and successfully presenting a sporting event, festival, exhibition, media reporting, etc. which showcases the St. Louis region in a positive light, garnering favorable local, national and/or international attention or recognition.

Winner:  Lodging Hospitality Management

Lodging Hospitality Management (LHM) is a St. Louis-based firm with 18 hotel properties, eight restaurants, is the owner of Westport Plaza and the owner/developer of Union Station. Lodging Hospitality Management has played a key role in transforming Union Station into a landmark destination for both St. Louisans and tourists. LHM invested in the expansion of the Union Station Hotel and the transformation of the Grand Hall with historic preservation in mind. Now Union Station featured the 200-foot St. Louis Wheel and the St. Louis Aquarium, which features 44 exhibits with 200 aquatic species and over 13,000 animals. LHM has transformed Union Station and the physical and cultural landscape of St. Louis.

Other finalists:

  • Beyond Housing
  • Riverfront Times
  • Kranzberg Arts Foundation

The Arcus People’s Choice Award, sponsored by RubinBrown LLP, was awarded to In-Person Virtual Events. In-Person was chosen among the over 30,000 votes, which is the second-largest number of votes in Arcus history.

Winner:  In-Person Away Virtual Events, LLC

In-Person Away Virtual Events, LLC uses technology and innovation to provide an affordable, realistic and engaging virtual presence as an alternative method of hosting and attending social events. The experience created by In-Person Away Virtual Events, LLC is like “being in two places at once.” Robotics, custom online games, as well as other tools and activities, are used to virtually bridge the physical distance gap for separated families. Their seven target markets within the “tele-social and celebration arena” include event planning services, death care, medical, senior and assisted living, hospice, real estate, and the United States military. Each of these industries presents opportunities to connect separated families and individuals using synchronous, realistic, autonomous and engaging technology options.

The other top vote getters were: Challenge Unlimited, Inc. (2) and Madison County Employment and Training (3). 

Congratulations to all the Arcus Awards finalists!