Business in the spotlight at annual chamber dinner

By Julia Green
The newly christened Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce held its annual awards dinner last Wednesday at The Andes Hotel to honor a number of its members for their accomplishments and commitment to local business.
“Each one of our businesses make up the fabric of our community,” said Carol O’Beirne, executive director of the chamber. “We have been able to grow our chamber at a time when other chambers are shrinking.”
Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce President Mark Birman said that the organization’s membership has increased from 97 at this time last year to 135 current members.
Birman, a Long Island native, drew comparisons between the local area and the Hamptons, citing similarities in the relative distance to New York City and the agricultural roots and calling the likenesses “striking.”
“I posit that we can achieve the same level of posterity,” he said. “I don’t think any of the Hamptons has anything on Andes.”
Those honored at Wednesday’s gala include: Dan and Noah Katz and families, owners of Freshtown Supermarket, with the Business Investment Award; Gregory Henderson and Joe Massa, co-owners of The Roxbury, with the Tourism Business Award; and Frank and Helene Manzo, owners of The Commons in Margaretville, with the Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Each of the recipients received the chamber’s award as well as a citation from the New York State Assembly, presented by Assemblyman Clifford Crouch.
Noah Katz accepted the Business Investment Award, thanking the chamber and community for readily receiving the new business.
“Thank you for receiving us so warmly,” he said. “We are the new kids on the block. We believe that a supermarket is one of the pillars of a community.
“We are committed to Margaretville – it is going to happen,” he added. “You can count on us for freshness, cleanliness, stock levels and competitive prices. You can hold me accountable for that. I promise to make all these things happen. And we’ve only been in a couple of months – you haven’t seen anything yet.”
In presenting Henderson and Massa with the Tourism Business Award, O’Beirne referred to The Roxbury as “the prime example of what accommodations and lodging should be in this area,” and Crouch added, “It’s more than just giving people a blanket and a pillow.”
“We have been accepted here from day one,” Henderson said upon acceptance of the award. “Not only accepted, but encouraged.”
Frank and Helene Manzo received the Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
“It takes backbone to be an entrepreneur,” Crouch said as he presented the couple with a citation from the New York State Assembly.
Frank Manzo used the opportunity to thank the shop owners within the building.
“Our vision when we started was to bring the building back to life,” he said. “We saw it as an iconic building in the community, and it has slowly been coming together. We hope you will all support the tenants in the building.”
Also on hand at the event was HealthAlliance CEO David Lundquist, who served as the evening’s speaker.
“I am honored and flattered to speak to a group of leaders such as yourselves, tackling a tough time in this market,” he said as he prefaced his speech, in which he identified health care as one of the top services provided to community along with education, discussed the merging of three area hospitals and the formation of HealthAlliance, and recognized the Wellness Task Force Collaboration.
“All of you are stars by running businesses in your area,” he said.