The Otsego County Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, Nov. 5, announced the recipients of its annual Small Business and Entrepreneurial Spirit awards, which will be presented during a virtual ceremony themed #TogetherWeThrive on Thursday, Nov. 12, at 4:30 p.m.
“This year, Otsego County Chamber of Commerce has worked tirelessly to connect chamber-member businesses with emergency funding, business support and other resources to help them continue moving forward during this crisis,” said Barbara Ann Heegan, president and CEO of the chamber. “#TogetherWeThrive is designed to keep with our annual tradition of celebration of the business community — a celebration for what they’ve already accomplished, and motivation to continue their momentum.”
Theresa’s Emporium, a family-oriented small business in downtown Oneonta, was named Small Business of the Year in honor of its “substantial impact on the community,” Heegan said.
“Theresa’s Emporium not only offers an array of eclectic merchandise for a broad range of people to enjoy, but has also shined through these difficult times,” Heegan said, highlighting the owners’ engagement in community activities throughout the coronavirus pandemic, including the city’s Survive, Then Thrive initiative and Saturday outdoor dining on Main Street during the summer.
“This was a total surprise,” said Kathy Verrelli, who co-owns the business with her sister, Theresa Cyzeski.
“To be acknowledged by the people also on the street and to have the support of the community is absolutely wonderful,” Cyzeski said. “It’s an honor, it really is. This last year, downtown feels like it’s coming back alive. It’s exciting to be part of that.”
“Theresa’s Emporium has engaged the college students and local community in many ways, fostering a spirit of collaboration,” Heegan said. “Whether it is to boost business for their neighbors or showcasing community members’ talent, their commitment to supporting local business and the community as a whole shines bright.”
Pathfinder Produce, a microbusiness of Pathfinder Village, was named Breakthrough Business of the Year in recognition of its "demonstrated innovation, creativity, entrepreneurship and growth potential," Heegan said.
Pathfinder Produce, a service of Pathfinder Village’s Adult Day Services for individuals with disabilities, has been "serving the fresh produce needs of families in northeastern Otsego County" through its weekly fruit-and-vegetable markets since 2013, according to Heegan. Working with community businesses and healthcare partners, Pathfinder Produce provides access to high-quality local fruits and vegetables, particularly through its Mobile Market program.
Custom Electronics was named Distinguished Business of the Year.
“Through growth, company history and collaborations across the country, Custom Electronics has positively impacted our local economy and added to quality of life by having its headquarters in Oneonta,” Heegan said, praising the company’s focus on renewable energy efforts.
Under the leadership of President and CEO Michael Pentaris, Custom Electronics launched a $2.2 million expansion plan this year, adding 90 jobs with up to 50 more expected, Heegan said.
State Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, will be honored with the Eugene A. Bettiol Jr. Distinguished Citizen Award, which is awarded to Otsego County citizens who have made a long-term impact on the region and who have given back to the community through their dedicated hard work and commitment, Heegan said.
“Sen. Seward has been a strong supporter of business and manufacturing in the regions he serves, and he has always worked hard on behalf of the business community’s needs,” Heegan said. “Sen. Seward’s positive influence and ability to work with all community members and businesses has delivered tremendous results.”
“He will be missed, but has certainly built a legacy here in Otsego County,” Heegan said of Seward, who will retire from the Senate at the end of his term.
The awards ceremony will kick off Restaurant Week, featuring takeout or dine-in specials at several local restaurants from Nov. 14 through Nov. 21.
“At the heart of hospitality services in Otsego County are our restaurants that attract local residents and visitors, who are also patrons, that support other local businesses as we prepare for our holiday shopping season,” Heegan said.
Visit bit.ly/otsegococ to register for the virtual awards ceremony.