Arnold led Pax8’s initiative to build a diverse workforce with tech career opportunities in rural Colorado.

Buffy Naylor, Senior Managing Editor

February 17, 2023

3 Min Read
Rural Colorado
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Pax8 today announced that Ashlie Arnold, information systems and analytics manager, was named DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) & Talent Champion of the Year as part of the annual APEX Awards, hosted by Colorado Technology Association (CTA). The APEX Awards celebrate exceptional people and companies that are leading the way for the Colorado tech community. Arnold was recognized for her leadership of Pax8’s Rural Empowerment Program by spearheading the company’s initiative to build a diverse workforce through the creation of tech career opportunities in rural areas of Colorado.

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Pax8’s Ashlie Arnold

“I am so honored to receive this award for my commitment to the people of rural Colorado,” said Arnold. “Rural communities and workers face many challenges, including geographic isolation, educational attainment and workforce development. I am so proud to work for a company like Pax8 that takes DEI to the next level and truly makes an impact. Our rural program has improved the quality of life for 45 families and the livelihood of rural Colorado.”

Arnold’s involvement in the Pax8 Rural Empowerment Program began in 2020 when Pax8 was the first award recipient of the State’s Location Neutral Employment (LONE) Incentive by the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. The new performance-based incentive combined a job growth incentive tax credit with an additional strategic fund job growth incentive for each remote worker the company employs in an eligible rural county as part of its expansion. Pax8’s projected expansion could create up to 1,855 jobs in rural and urban Colorado over the next eight years.

Led the Charge

Arnold, a resident of Salida, Colorado, was the first employee hired as part of the Pax8 Rural Empowerment Program and led the charge to bring tech jobs to rural workers. Through her strong partnerships with the State of Colorado Department of Labor and Employment and the Office of the Future of Work – Digital Equity, economic development groups (EDOs), local governments, schools, workforce development centers and other business sectors in the various rural communities, Pax8 scaled faster than anticipated.

Today, the success of the program includes a hybrid/remote work environment of 45 Pax8 employees who live and work in eight rural communities of Colorado including the counties of Archuleta, Chaffee, Fremont, Logan, Mesa, Montrose, Pueblo and Rout. These employees serve in a variety  of roles in support, sales and product management.  Among the 45 employees, there is even age distribution, 17% are from marginalized ethnicities and 36% are women employed in a tech role traditionally held by men.

Impact Felt Across the State

According to Brian R. Lewandowski, executive director of the Business Research Division at the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado Boulder, the impact of Pax8’s Rural Empowerment Program has been felt across the state. The company’s DEI job creation strategy has contributed to the additional creation of 265 secondary jobs, an investment of $3.2 million in rural Colorado and an overall economic impact to the state of more than $10.2 million.

“Congratulations to Ashlie for being named an amazing DEI leader as she has genuinely invested her passion, time, and talent to grow this program and provide residents of rural areas access to tech jobs,” said John Street, CEO of Pax8. “She is a champion within our organization who moves the needle forward to assure Pax8 remains a leader in DEI efforts and continues to be recognized as a best place to work.”

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email Buffy Naylor or connect with her on LinkedIn.

 

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About the Author(s)

Buffy Naylor

Senior Managing Editor, Channel Futures

Buffy Naylor is senior managing editor of Channel Futures. Prior to joining Informa (then VIRGO) in 2008, she was an award-winning copywriter and editor, then senior manager of corporate communications for an international leisure travel corporation and, before that, in charge of creative development and copywriting for a boutique marketing and public relations agency.

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