Governor Polis Visits On Havana Street, Korea Town and Aurora Businesses

August 25th, 2021

Governor Polis On the Road Newsletter – Visit Governor Polis’ Website Here

There are amazing things going on all over our state, and I’m honored to be able to celebrate and support what makes Colorado special. As I hear from people all over the state, I am inspired by the positive spirit and optimism of Coloradans.


– Jared Polis

A Quick Look Back


I was able to help International Rescue Committee staff and volunteers set up a home for an Afghan refugee family who arrived in Colorado two weeks ago. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is a nonprofit humanitarian organization that works in the U.S. and around the world to help people whose lives and livelihoods have been threatened by conflict and disaster as they survive, recover and regain control of their future. Since the IRC opened in Denver in 2016, the organization has served more than 1,600 refugees. Colorado is ready and willing to welcome refugees, including Special Immigrant Visa recipients, many of whom went out of their way to support U.S. Operations. We know that our immigrant and refugee community help make our state stronger, and we want to support the men, women and children who make their homes in Colorado.


I want to thank the IRC and their staff for all their incredible work to help refugees settle in Colorado. Currently, they and their colleague agencies ECDC’s African Community Center and Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains are ready and eager to welcome and meet the needs of all refugees coming to Colorado, including individuals from Afghanistan.

These organizations partner with the U.S. Department of State and Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) to resettle refugees through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. The IRC is working around the clock to support incoming families from Afghanistan, and are always looking for more volunteers. IRC volunteer opportunities are  open to all ages – you can visit their website and sign up to help.


Employee ownership is a great way to make sure that those who do the work can build wealth, and that when a company succeeds, everyone who was part of it succeeds along with it. I had the opportunity to visit Truce Media Collective in Denver. Truce is an Employee-owned content creation, movie studio, and digital media company. The team at Truce has created the first member-owned Movie and TV studio company. They recently received a Employee Owner trial grant from our administration  and became an LCA cooperative (Limited Cooperative Association) business. The unique thing about this company is the apprenticeship to ownership development track and their commitment to member ownership. Currently they have 7 employee owners working and are looking to expand with time. Truce’s employee ownership model and other companies with the same model are extremely important,  especially as we work to build every business in communities from corner to corner back stronger on the heels of the greatest economic crisis we’ve seen since 2008. Independence has long been a Colorado value in the business landscape, making the varied experiences of employee ownership like we’re seeing in Truce Media Collective today, a true Colorado story.


I took a tour of Urban Land Conservancy’s multi-us site at the former Johnson & Wales Denver Campus with partners BuCu West/The Kitchen Network, St. Elizabeth’s School, and Archway Communities. The former campus was purchased by, a nonprofit organization that works to preserve and develop residential and commercial properties to benefit communities, The 5 partners have separated the 25 acre campus into their own buildings for their programs. Denver Public Schools  owns the west side of the campus and plans to expand Denver School of the Arts to this location and will eventually help provide space for an additional 500 students. Denver Housing Authority purchased two dormitories on the south side of the campus in hopes to create further affordable housing opportunities. Urban Land Conservancy owns the East Side of the Campus. St. Elizabeth’s School is now located on the east side in Centennial Hall. The Kitchen Network has moved into the Culinary Arts Building and Vail Hall where it will provide incubator space for small businesses and certificate programs in culinary education in partnership with Emily Griffith Technical College. Archway Communities has four buildings providing affordable housing and community spaces. This partnership is the future of workforce development, education, and housing where all have the opportunity to thrive. We applaud the work of Urban Land Conservancy with partnering organizations Denver Housing Authority, St. Elizabeth’s School, BuCu West/The Kitchen Network, and Archway Housing, to fill the needs of Northeast Denver and surrounding communities.


Colorado’s small businesses are surging back and supporting jobs. As an entrepreneur, I feel joy seeing so many folks following their dreams by creating businesses, finding success and my administration will continue to implement historic legislation and distribute relief funding to help power our Colorado comeback.


That’s why I held a roundtable discussion at a Korean-owned coffee shop, Coffee Story, which opened during the pandemic in the designated Korea Town in the Havana Business Improvement District. I met with owner JW Lee of Seoul Hospitality Group and a host of small business owners, State Representative Iman Jodeh and Naquetta Ricks, as well as leaders from the Aurora Chamber of Commerce, Havana BID, Aurora Sister Cities. We were able  walk around Korea Town and visit the other businesses in the complex. Many parts of Colorado’s economy are recovering, dining, events, and tourism remain battered industries. We’re home to one of the fastest-growing entertainment and hospitality sectors in the country, and a home away from home for millions. So as we work to get vaccines into the arms of more Coloradans every day, we need to work even harder to ensure that both patrons and restaurant owner members of Colorado’s AAPI community find a welcoming home in our state. We applaud the work of local stakeholders who have made Korea Town in Aurora and the Havana Business Improvement District a welcoming home for all.



I made a quick stop to visit in Aurora to the Japanese-owned lifestyle store and market, Ebisu Colorado Trading, which opened last August during the pandemic in the Havana Business Improvement District (Havana BID). I met with owners Nana and Papa Guan and did a little shopping with leaders from the Aurora Chamber of Commerce, Havana BID, and Aurora Sister Cities. Nana and Papa Guan established Ebisu Colorado Trading, LLC. to fill a need within the Havana Business Improvement District and Korea Town for a convenience market offering everything from Japanese candy to household improvement tools (which became very popular during the pandemic). Since opening in mid-August of last year, items have been flying off of Ebisu’s shelves. With the support of the Aurora Chamber, Aurora Sister Cities, and Havana BID, Ebisu has benefited from word of mouth marketing and continues to attract customers from across the metro area.

Check out the photos from the tour by the Office of Governor Polis below: