Last Saturday night, the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance took care of an oversight that actually pre-dated the organization’s existence. At its annual gala, culminating the usual array of awards, the CSRBA announced its Business Citizen of the Year for 2014.

The winner was Chuck Murphy, who came to the podium with longtime friend Gov. John Hickenlooper in tow, accepted the award and playfully said he was most proud that the Business Alliance was honoring “an Irish Catholic Democrat.”

That joke brought a hearty laugh from the crowd of 600-plus people inside The Broadmoor International Center. But in reality, Murphy would have been a fitting choice as Business Citizen of the Year at any time in the past two decades.

It should be said the recognition isn’t determined by anonymous insiders. Candidates are nominated from the business community, often (but not always) from within someone’s own company. Other businesses or nonprofits also provide many nominations.

Somehow, Murphy slipped through the cracks as the years went by. This is not to suggest any particular winners didn’t deserve the recognition, because that’s not the point. But some honorees probably would have been the first to admit Murphy could’ve been a more appropriate choice before their turn came.

Regardless, this was much better late than never. Even against a formidable group of eight other nominees, Murphy stood out. Scott Bryan of Bryan Construction also would’ve been a most worthy recipient, given his company’s success, his work with the Business Alliance and helping make sure Colorado Springs has proper lobbying support in Washington.

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[pullquote]Even against a formidable group of eight other nominees, Murphy clearly stood out.[/pullquote]Among the other well-qualified nominees were Steve Blazer, president and co-founder of Blazer Electrical Supply Co.; Chris Ryan, founder and CEO of Fusion Marketing Partners; Lynette Crow-Iverson, president and CEO of Conspire!; Kent Fortune, local general manager of USAA; Mark Bittle, market development manager of CenturyLink; and John Brunk, program manager of Colorado Professional Resources LLC.

But this was Chuck Murphy’s moment, adding to other accolades he has earned in recent years such as the UCCS Lifetime Entrepreneurship Award in 2013. He has left his most visible mark on the region with his dedication to historic preservation, supporting local arts organizations (and artists as well as educators), representing this region even now on the Colorado Economic Development Commission and committing the resources of Murphy Constructors to countless projects over the years — from Phantom Canyon Brewing Co. to the Manitou Spa, Cliff House, Pioneers Museum and many more, some ongoing today.

In fact, Manitou Springs very well might not be the same thriving community it is now, if not for the way Murphy and his company stepped in forcefully to help Manitou recover from its disastrous floods of 1999. And even beyond all that, he has endeared himself to many with his relentless generosity to nonprofits serving the less fortunate, including people with disabilities and mental illness.

Put it all together, and Chuck Murphy has earned every special honor that comes his way, capped by Business Citizen of the Year for 2014. He’s a true community hero, an inspiring example to every other business owner who wants to leave an indelible imprint on this region’s history. Yes, even as an Irish Catholic Democrat in Colorado Springs. n CSBJ