2023 Small Business Person of the Year
President & CEO, A.L. Burke, Inc.
Alexis Stabler accepted the award on behalf of her Mother, Maryanne Burke
The Small Business Person of the Year shows evidence of growth in the number of employees; the business must have a minimum of 5 full-time employees and growth in sales with an emphasis of the past 3-5 years. They must show innovation of their products or services and contribute to their community.
A.L.Burke, started in 1945, offers quality, affordable housing to the Southern Tier region. Their goal is to provide well-maintained properties for the local community, and they are firmly committed to excellent customer service. In the past five years, the business has grown over 300%, in both gross sales and in number of employees. They currently have thirty-five employees.
Maryanne thought her life’s ambition was to teach, but in 1988, she joined the family business as the 3rd generation and worked alongside her parents until 2000 when she became President and CEO.
Maryanne’s parents loved finding new acquisitions and their daughter followed suit and developed a love of pursuing real estate investment!
She started her real estate portfolio with mobile home parks which filled a need for single-family dwellings. Her current portfolio includes ten mobile home parks. Not one to sit on her laurels, last year saw the purchase of an existing local Mom and Pop-owned campground in Endicott.
They approached the national park franchise, Jellystone, whose mission they believed in, invested two point five million dollars of their own money, re-branded Binghamton Jellystone Park, officially opened in 2022 and celebrated their grand opening this year on May 6. In their first year, gross revenue tripled!
2023 Entrepreneur of the Year
Owner, Big Zues Barbecue
The Entrepreneur of the Year exemplifies leadership and entrepreneurial skills. They show a willingness to take risks and demonstrate exceptional vision that contributes to business success. This person exhibits personal drive, focus, innovation and business acumen.
From an early age, Jesus loved being the in kitchen. To him it signified spending quality time with the ones he loved most.
In 2020, in the middle of the pandemic, Jesus decided to take time to be home with his family and rethink his journey….to grow to his fullest potential and do what he loved most. July 4th weekend of that year, he pulled out his grill and gave a plate of food to whoever passed by. It was exactly what people needed and that was the inspiration for Big Zues Barbecue! Opening a food business in the middle of a pandemic presented challenges from many directions but with hard work, grit, determination and sacrifice and with his family’s trust in him, he did it.
Jesus loves his community. He loves to give back to local non-profits through fundraising–Big Zues became the sponsor for a local twelve and under Binghamton baseball team. And according to David Sobotka, owner of the Rumble Ponies, Jesus is often at Mirabito treating kids to a baseball game. Mentoring the young people in our community is important to Jesus and he hopes he can be an inspiration to anyone starting out in their culinary career.
Charlie Randall, CEO of McIntosh Laboratory wrote this about Jesus:
“Jesus leads with his broad entrepreneurial skills to develop his brand as a community leader in civic engagement, fundraising and supporting the goals of the community, all by his signature catch phrase ‘Barbecue might not end world hate, but it will at least bring us to the table.’ Any person can infuse words and food in the community, but a true leader and business owner is one that unites that community, drives and inspires change through their goods and services. Jesus does that with barbecue.”
2023 Distinguished Chamber Volunteer of the Year
Director of the Career and Technical Excellence Institute, Broome-Tioga BOCES
The Volunteer of the Year Award recognizes the dedication of one of our many Chamber volunteers. The Chamber is fortunate to have so many dedicated volunteers who deserve recognition. Without them, we would not be able to accomplish our mission.
When thinking of ways for the Chamber staff to describe Matt, the phrase “Matt makes things happen” was the one recurring theme. And that is so very accurate. When asked to help with the stuffing of the backpacks for this year’s SPARK event, Matt brought a small army of teacher volunteers to help the Chamber staff! For those not familiar with SPARK, it is an event for nearly two thousand local 8th grade students to experience interactive activities with our local industries and companies and organizations to discover what is available to them for various career paths. Matt Sheehan was instrumental in launching the first SPARK event held in January of 2020(right before COVID). SPARK successfully rose again this past January with another two thousand eight graders attending and with Matt Sheehan serving as one of the organizing leaders along with the Chamber and GBEOP and SUNY Broome.
Matt organizes the “Kids Can Build” event-formerly known as “Canstruction”-and fundraises for it so local schools can build their own structures. If you have never seen any of the structures built by these students with only cans, you have missed amazing feats of imagination and engineering! In addition to all the canned foods and money that is donated to fight hunger in our area.
Matt serves as Vice President of the Greater Binghamton Outreach Program Board of Directors as well as other community boards. And he enjoys coaching multiple sports teams, and not just those his kids are on!
2023 Civic Leader of the Year
Senior Location Executive, IBM Endicott
The Civic Leader of the Year shows evidence of having had a long-term beneficial impact on the community. They demonstrate civic engagement by using a combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make a difference in our communities.
Over the past ten years, Mary has served on the Boards of local non-profits and for profit organizations including, but not limited to, the American Red Cross, Southern Tier Chapter, the Town of Union Local Development Corporation, the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce and the Koffman Southern Tier Incubator where she know serves as Vice President of their Board.
But Mary’s commitments go far beyond Board Service. She leads by example through the IBM Endicott Employee Charitable Contribution Campaign motivating her employees to specify a monetary donation to the local charity of their choice. In 2022, IBM Endicott employees and local retirees donated almost two hundred thousand dollars to agencies of their choosing! The top recipients in 2022 were United Way of Broome and Tioga County; The American Cancer Society; Chow; Mom’s House; Habitat for Humanity and the American Red Cross for which IBM Endicott has been an Award or Title sponsor for the Real Heroes Breakfast since 2014.
In 2014, she established a partnership with the Broome County Council of Arts to collaborate and “ promote a thriving arts community”, essential to the quality of life in Broome County”. She has been a patron and donor of the Goodwill Theatre and secured funding from IBM Corporate to support the Stardust Gala, “RestART the Arts” and the 100th birthday.
If anyone has visited the Discovery Center lately, you have seen the unique STEM travelling display called the “Bug Squad” which is a hands-on exhibit that explores the abilities of bugs; Mary secured IBM Corporate funding for that fun and interactive display.
In 2017, Mary joined the Board of the Binghamton Philharmonic Orchestra, and currently serves as Board President. She has secured funding for BPO’s Community Engagement Sponsor, a unique sponsorship that enables the Philharmonic to provide free educational outreach activities, programs in youth music education and adult lifelong learning.
Thank you to all of our annual dinner sponsors including:
Title Sponsor: Visions Federal Credit Union; Wine Sponsor: Sam A. Lupo & Sons, Inc.; Award Presentation Sponsors: Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, Security Mutual Life Insurance Co., of NY, and Rapid Deployable Systems; Entertainment Sponsor: Beaver Mountain Log Homes and Empire Access; and Creative Sponsor: IdeaKraft.