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10/16/2012

Gourmet brownie business becomes 'IMAGE certified'

Gourmet brownie business becomes 'IMAGE certified'
Gourmet brownie business becomes 'IMAGE certified'
PHOENIX — A mail-order gourmet brownie business became the 17th Arizona company to join a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) program designed to strengthen hiring practices and combat the unlawful employment of illegal aliens.

Fairytale Brownies Inc., was certified as an "IMAGE" or "ICE Mutual Agreement Between Government and Employers" partner during a ceremony Tuesday. IMAGE is a voluntary program that allows private industry to partner with ICE to reduce unauthorized employment and the use of fraudulent identity documents.

"By taking the initiative to become IMAGE certified, Fairytale Brownies is setting the example for other small businesses in the state and around the country," said Matt Allen, special agent in charge of HSI Arizona. "When employers make a commitment to hire and maintain a lawful workforce, it's good not only for their business, but for the community and the nation."

Fairytale Brownies was started in a small Scottsdale catering kitchen in 1992 and has since grown into a large mail order business with annual revenues of $10 million. The company's operations are now managed from a southeast Phoenix facility that produces as many as 60,000 brownies daily and employs 40 regular workers and a peak seasonal workforce of 150 employees.

Earlier this month, the company was named one of three recipients of the Better Business Bureau's 2012 International Torch Awards for Marketplace Excellence, which recognize U.S. and Canadian businesses that exemplify the advancement of trust in the marketplace.

"Fairytale Brownies is honored to be accepted into ICE's IMAGE program," said Kim Silva, operations team leader with Fairytale Brownies. "Our core business values are product excellence, incomparable service, integrity, teamwork and leadership in the workplace. We strongly believe in conducting business in a way that makes both our employees and customers proud. Being accepted into the IMAGE program further solidifies our commitment to this philosophy and signifies that Fairytale Brownies continues to be an industry leader among those throughout the business community."

Undocumented workers create vulnerabilities in today's marketplace by presenting false documents to gain employment, completing applications for fraudulent benefits, and stealing identities of legal United States workers. To combat this, ICE initiated the IMAGE program in 2006.

As part of the IMAGE program, ICE provides private companies with education and training on proper hiring procedures, including use of employment screening tools such as E-Verify. IMAGE certified companies also undergo an audit of their I-9 forms to ensure current employees are eligible to work in the United States.

Arizona employers interested in learning more about IMAGE membership may call the ICE IMAGE coordinator in Phoenix at 602- 407-6155 or visit www.ICE.gov/image.