Area businesses honored, Startup Alleghenies recognized

 In Huntingdon County, News

[Article originally appeared in the Huntingdon Daily News on May 24, 2019, written by Kylie Hawn]

Investors, supporters, elected officials and business representatives gathered at the Ellis Ballroom at Juniata College Thursday evening for Huntingdon County Business and Industry’s (HCBI) annual meeting and awards gala.

Before awards were presented, HCBI executive director Robert Reitman gave annual report for the agency, highlighting some of the major accomplishments from the year.

He touted their support for Alleghenies Ahead, the six-county comprehensive plan that highlights six major initiatives that will benefit the county and the Southern Alleghenies region.

“It showed we needed to partner together (with other counties and entities) to get things done,” he said. “We also need to make good use of resources to do it.”

Reitman said another example of collaboration with other entities is the Active Transportation Committee, which is building on natural assets in the county to support walking, biking, canoeing and kayaking options for all county residents.

Various business leaders and organizations were honored during the Huntingdon County Business and Industry (HCBI) awards gala Thursday evening. Accepting awards on behalf of businesses were, front row, from the left, Amanda Jenkins of Jenkie’s Joint, Chelsea Eichelberger of ACCO Brands, Christa McGeary of All American Pizza; back row, Eric Jenkins of Jenkie’s Joint, Jerry Rucker, plant manager for ACCO Brands, Edna Querry of ACCO Brands and Gregg Peachey of ACCO Brands. Photo by KYLIE HAWN

He also touted the opening of Jenkie’s Joint in Orbisonia, the renovations at All American Pizza and Subs in Huntingdon, the work with Riverfront Campground LLC near Henderson Hollow Road and Point Road, the restructuring of collateral for Stone Town Gallery and the work with the riparian buffer at the Riverview Business Center as major accomplishments for HCBI.

Debra Clark, who serves as HCBI director of business development and Startup Alleghenies entrepreneurial coach, highlighted the successes of the Start Up Alleghenies initiative, which began locally late last year.

“Since December, 22 new clients have benefitted from this entrepreneurial initiative in Huntingdon and Fulton counties,” said Reitman.

Some of the businesses highlighted by Clark included Skillz Training, Mama Bears Prenatal Peek, Harper’s Haven Boutique, Assure Tech and Garden Harvest LLC.

“Garden Harvest LLC received a $3,500 Step Up Alleghenies grant,” she said, adding that seeing a business like Garden Harvest LLC go from an idea to reality is why she agreed to become an entrepreneurial coach.

“My true success is watching them become successful,” said Clark.

Reitman presented the first award of the night, the Reinvention Award, to a business that has made a major commitment to being inventive and diversifying in the face of change.

Dave Scott of Young, Oakes and Brown presented the award to All American Pizza for renovations that took place earlier this year.

“People were very impressed with the turnaround time,” he said. “It was the fastest turnaround in HCBI’s history. They started in December 2018, with the help of contractor Josh Williams, they were able to pull off the renovations in a short period of time

“This is a good picture of what people can do when they see the rewards at the end,” he added.

Christa McGeary, owner of All American Pizza, thanked the community for their support as well as Community State Bank for their financial help and Williams for the work on the renovations.

The Business Adventure Award, sponsored by the Cisney family, was awarded to a business that had a vision and isn’t afraid to act on it.

Dawn Snyder of Community State Bank presented the award on behalf of the Cisney family to Jenkie’s Joint, which opened in Orbisonia earlier this year.

“It takes a good deal of patience to keep aiming at the end goal, which was to combine art and food with a café and laundromat,” she said.

Owner Eric Jenkins thanked Snyder and others at Community State Bank and HCBI for their support in helping to get things up and running for them.

“I also want to thank my wife (Amanda),” he added, showing his surprise in receiving the award. “She does so much for me.”

The last award of the evening was the Keystone Award, sponsored by First Energy, which is given to a business that’s been in the county for over 20 years and has proven to be a keystone in the county.

Huntingdon County Register and Recorder Jinny Cooper presented the award to ACCO Brands.

She asked how many in the room worked their during summers in college and how many of their children also worked at ACCO Brands during their summers in college, highlighting just one of the ways they give back to the community.

“They are very helping and giving to the community,” she said. “They support a lot of nonprofit organizations and they encourage their employees to do the same.”

Cooper also highlighted their extensive history in the county, beginning with the J.C. Blair Paper Co. to the Blair Plant in Alexandria.

Jerry Rucker, plant manager for ACCO Brands, accepted the award.

“I am accepting this on behalf of the over 400 employees,” he said. “It’s because of them we continue to thrive. We owe 100% of our work ethic to the people of the community who keep the factory thriving.”

In the business meeting portion of the event, Reitman recognized two outgoing board members, including current HCBI president Tracey Cook and Gregg Peachey.

“We can’t thank you enough for your leadership,” said Reitman.

Cook also noted that Tom Mincemoyer and Larry Burger were voted to serve their second three-year terms on the board, and Scott Ulrich, Wendy Garlock, Jim Troha and Doug Tietjens were elected to serve their first three-year term on the HCBI board.