The Chamber is pleased to recognize the winners of Entrepreneur of the Year, Non-Profit of the Year, Distinguished Business of the Year and Howard Cogan Tourism Awards. The winners will be presented with these awards at the Chamber Annual Dinner on January 28th, 2016 at Ithaca College’s Emerson suites from 5:30-9 p.m.
The Entrepreneur of the Year Award will be given to Bobby Frisch of Ithaca by Firelight/Firelight Camps. Since being installed in early 2014, the glamp-site has become a regional attraction, and has earned accolades and commendation from numerous sources, including Vogue, The Wall Street Journal, WireMag, Self, and Martha Stewart. In addition, Firelight Camps is setting new business standards founded on eco-friendly practices. The business inherently preserves natural landscapes with off-the-grid tents and a low-input lobby centered around campfires.
Non-Profit of the Year will be awarded to the Community Foundation of Tompkins County. Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, the Community Foundation of Tompkins County enables ordinary people to be philanthropists. Since its inception in 2000, donors have contributed more than $18.5 million, enabling over 2,200 grants totaling more than $8 million to support the quality of life in Tompkins County. This year, the Community Foundation has also taken a leadership role in encouraging, supporting, and educating the public about “Collective Impact”, in which non-profits, businesses, government and community members combine efforts to solve large, systemic problems in comprehensive ways.
Distinguished Business of the Year will be awarded to Renovus for expanding the possibilities of solar energy and being a company leader in sustainable business practices. The company has expanded exponentially since it started 12 years ago, and now boasts 70 full-time staff, a fleet of 23 cars and trucks, and seven trailers for moving equipment. Each of the biodiesel-powered vehicles was chosen for its efficiency. In 2016, Renovus is moving forward with a Solar Farm project, which will enable anyone, regardless of homeownership, to invest in solar power.
The Howard Cogan Award, given in the name of the creator of the “Ithaca is Gorges” slogan, is designed to recognize leaders in the community that have helped to create programs and tourism related product that strengthen our reputation as a vibrant and unique destination. This year, the award is presented to Darlynne Overbaugh for Wizarding Weekend. Originally intended as a small, local promotion featuring Press Bay Alley merchants, the event caught the attention of the national media, and attracted over 8,000 people to the community. The team organizing the event, including downtown merchants, the Downtown Ithaca Alliance and many volunteers, responded outstandingly to the inflated crowds and planned and executed a fabulous large scale event in only 7 days.