CHENANGO COUNTY — Commerce Chenango held their annual Gala on Thursday, June 16, where they recognized the hard work and achievements of several notable Chenango County businesses and individuals.
The event has had many names and has been held at various locations around Chenango County in the past. This year it was hosted at Stoney Creek Castle in Earlville, a newly established venue.
"We try to have it all over, we've had it in many places. Last year it was at the Country Club, some years we did it in the front lawn at NBT bank, it was the Summer Soiree. We are really trying to have this all throughout Chenango County," said Commerce Chenango President and CEO Kerri Green.
"Part of the challenge is finding a facility big enough to host 125, 150 people. So we’re very limited on our choices," she continued. "So when we found out about this venue we were really excited about it because it was something brand new, it’s in Chenango County, it was a way to feature them and have something a little bit different and unique."
The nearly 150 attendees enjoyed hors d'oeuvres, catered food, a cash bar, and live music, as well as the presentation of five awards to notable businesses, business owners, and community members.
According to Green, Commerce Chenango put out a nomination form earlier this year asking community members and members of Commerce Chenango to nominate businesses and individuals for the awards that would be presented at the Gala.
"We looked at the list of people that were nominated and then an internal review committee takes a look at them," said Green. "We look at the criteria, we check to see if they’ve won an award before, how recently, was it the same category. There’s a little bit of research that goes into it before we actually select the winners."
The Leadership Chenango Alumni Award, which recognizes an individual who is seen as a leader, demonstrates excellence in their field, and serves as a role model personally and professionally, was presented to Sarah Mahan-Green.
According to Commerce Chenango, Mahan-Green is "always pushing herself to learn from others and invest in her personal and professional life." She is involved in artistic projects by nonprofits, youth athletic groups, organizing school recycling projects, and regularly donates blood.
Steel Sales, Inc. of Sherburne took home the Small Business of the Year Award, which recognizes an organization that shows a commitment to ethical business practices and employee support. Recognizing a larger business that has shown consistent growth, is a leader in the industry, and makes constant efforts to improve and innovate is the Large Business of the Year Award, which was presented to DCMO BOCES.
Also recognized at the Commerce Chenango Annual Gala was Erika's Cakery of Bainbridge. Erika's Cakery was presented with the Emerging Business Award for their success and sustainability since their opening less than three years ago.
Perhaps the most coveted award of the annual Gala is the Entrepreneur of the Year Award, also known as "The Sammy" after Golden Artist Colors Founder Sam Golden. This year, The Sammy was presented to the Columbus Public House Owner Edsall Hodges by Emma Golden of Golden Artist Colors.
The Columbus Public House was first established in 1793, beginning as a stagecoach stop between Cortland and Cooperstown. In 2011, Hodges purchased the building and restored the hotel, creating the Columbus Public House as it stands today.
"When we read up about his business and what he had done to stay afloat during COVID, even after he had just opened and COVID happened which really could have ruined his business honestly, and he was really creative about finding ways to stay open and do deliveries of food and things like that," said Green. "We just really felt like he sustained, he maintained, he was really innovative in what he did, and what he did with the Columbus Public House to get it back up and running was really amazing."
"We just felt like his story was really special, and it was something that we thought Sam Golden would really support as well."
The 2022 Gala proved to be Commerce Chenango's largest event, and was made possible by the Stoney Creek Castle, their presenting sponsor Raymond Corporation, as well as supporting sponsors GHS Federal Credit Union, Golden Artist Colors, Development Chenango, and The Big 10 Club.
Commerce Chenango also gave a special thank you to Mark Golden of Golden Artist Colors, "for continuing the tradition of providing the Sammy Award, named after his father, Sam Golden, a true entrepreneur."
"I’m just very thankful for everyone who made the trip out to attend. This was the largest event we have had, we had nearly 150 people there which exceeded our expectations, and it was off the beaten path a little bit so we really appreciate that people took time to come," said Green. "Of course all of our sponsors and the people at Stoney Creek Castle for making the event such a success."
"It’s been over a week and people are still talking about it and sad that they missed it," said Green. "So it seems like it was the event of the year so far, and we’re really happy that we could’ve brought this to our members and the community. It just was a great night."
More information on Commerce Chenango and their upcoming events can be found at CommerceChenango.com and on the Commerce Chenango Facebook page.