By Richard Whitby
The Daily Star
---- — The Green Earth Health Food Market and the Benson Real Estate Agency will be honored Thursday during the Otsego County Chamber’s 13th annual Small Business Banquet at the Otesaga Resort Hotel in Cooperstown.
Green Earth of Oneonta will receive the seventh annual Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield Breakthrough Award as a person or business that has shown a willingness to innovate, is creative and entrepreneurial, and has growth potential.
Dean and Emily Roberts bought the store nearly five years ago, at a time when the previous owner was considering closing the health-food store.*
“We shopped at Green Earth for years,” Dave Roberts said, adding that he and his wife didn’t like the idea the store would close.
Since then, the couple has “increased sales substantially,” Dave Roberts said.
Green Earth has added numerous lines of products, opened a café that serves prepared foods and recently obtained a beer license, he said.
“Our focus is on organic and local produce,” he said.
The store also has set up a community room, where tai chi and yoga classes are held and presentations, such as beekeeping, are given.
And the Roberts’ have kept the environment in mind, installing a solar power plant on the roof, among other initiatives.
The Benson Agency of Oneonta will receive the 13th annual Key Bank Award as a business that has had a significant effect on the quality of life in the community.
Barbara Ann Heegan, executive director of the Otsego County Chamber, lauded Benson for its participation as a business, but also among its individual employees, in community events and sponsorships.
“They are role models,” Heegan said. “They have the community in their hearts.”
The awards banquet will start at 5:45 p.m. Thursday at the Otesaga Resort Hotel, with dinner at 7 p.m. Reservations are required. For more information, contact the Otsego County Chamber at 432-4500 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
*changed at 8:13 a.m. Oct. 11 to correct owner's name.