By Denise Richardson
The Daily Star
Cooperstown — The synergy of small business and community were highlighted when the Otsego County Chamber and partners presented two awards Thursday.
“It was a wonderful night,’’ said Roxana Hurlburt, chairwoman of the Otsego County Chamber board of directors. Event sponsors and attendees by their presence and comments showed support for working together to enhance business locally, she said. “We are very blessed in Otsego County.”
Presenters applauded the awards recipients not only for their retail and real estate business efforts but also for support of the community, its residents, groups and overall well-being.
Benson Agency Real Estate, located at 1 Grand St. in Oneonta, was recognized with the 13th annual KeyBank Small Business Award, and Green Earth Health food market was honored with the seventh annual Excellus BlueCross BlueShield Breakthrough Award.
About 185 people, including business owners, employees and guests, attended the dinner event at the Otesaga Resort Hotel in Cooperstown, organizers said. Awards recipients were greeted with standing ovations.
Betsy Shultis and Becky Thomas, broker-owners of Benson Agency Real Estate since 2001, thanked the Chamber and KeyBank for the awards and their families and employees for support that made success possible.
Benson has about 20 employees, and Thomas asked for and received a round of applause on their behalf.
“Without them, we wouldn’t be here,’’ Thomas said. “This isn’t just a Betsy and Becky thing.’’
Dean Roberts, owner of the Green Earth store on Market Street in Oneonta, said his business aims to be not only a grocery store but also a center where residents may learn and participate in events for body, spirit and community.
“We realized there’s a lot more to good health than good food,’’ Roberts said. The business has benefited from growth in the organic food markets and from support from consumers, neighbors and employees, he said.
Dean and Emily Roberts bought the Green Earth from Gary Schroeder on Jan. 1, 2008. During the past five years, the business has added organic produce, a 15-door refrigerator, 75 bulk food dispenser and a community room that offers yoga, meditation and wellness clinics and other activities, the event program said. The business has 10 employees.
“We worked hard, but we were very lucky,’’ Roberts said. “It’s the community support that really makes our business possible.’’