Chamber Impact Awards

Annie Izumi, owner of Barn Owl Art Studio, accepted a Chamber Impact Award from Jeff Shaffer, the Central PA Chamber of Commerce’s Communication and Education manager. Photo by Kevin Mertz/Standard Journal.

WATSONTOWN — When Annie Izumi started her own business last winter, she turned to the Bucknell University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for assistance in getting started.

It seemed fitting that both Izumi and the SBDC received Chamber Impact Awards Thursday for their dedication to the Central PA Chamber of Commerce. An award was also presented to Practical Business Solutions during the chamber’s annual meeting and awards ceremony, held at the Watson Inn.

The event, which was attended by 184 people, was highlighted by the presentation of the three awards.

“It amazes us the wonderful things that are going on right here in Central Pa.,” Bruce Smith, the chamber’s president and CEO, said prior to the awards presentation. “We’ve come to realize how many of you are making an impact in your community.”

Smith presented the first award of the afternoon, which went to the SBDC. In introducing the winner, Smith noted that the SBDC has been in business for 36 years.

“They are a leader in the economic arena,” he said.

The Bucknell SBDC provides guidance to new and expanding businesses in Union, Northumberland, Montour, Snyder, Juniata and Perry counties.

“The assistance, guidance and education that you have provided to help businesses start, grow and prosper is why we want to recognize you for the impact you have on our community,” Smith said.

Steven Stumbris, Bucknell SBDC director, accepted the award.

Izumi made it a point to thank the SBDC as she received her award, which was presented by Jeff Shaffer, the chamber’s Communication and Education manager.

“The support this person gives to the business and education association has been invaluable,” Shaffer said while introducing Izumi as the award winner.

Izumi, the owner of Barn Owl Art Studio in Lewisburg, has been a dedicated volunteer with the chamber’s Business and Education committee, Shaffer said.

Following the ceremony, Izumi said she enjoys working with the students served through the chamber.

“I used to be a teacher,” she said. “I taught for 10 years. I love the classroom, I love education.”

She also thanked the SBDC, both while receiving her award and following the meeting.

“I want to say ‘thank you’ to the SBDC for the help getting (my business) started,” Izumi said.

Following the ceremony, Izumi said she was “amazed” that she received an award at the same event where the SBDC was recognized.

“I showed up last winter, cashed in my retirement and (the SBDC) helped me get (my business) going,” Izumi said.

As thankful as Izumi was to see the SBDC recognized, Stumbris was equally as excited to see Izumi receive an award.

“It’s even better to see one of the businesses that we helped be recognized,” he said. “It’s icing on the cake… We’re helping businesses start and grow.”

Glenn Folio, area account representative for Practical Business Solutions accepted the Chamber Impact Award on behalf of the business, which has an office in Shamokin Dam and is headquartered in West Palm Beach, Fla.

The award was presented by Tea Jay Aikey, the chamber’s executive assistant. Practical Business Solutions, which works to find low-cost options for merchants’ transaction processing needs, was also the premier sponsor of Thursday’s chamber event.

“It was surprising,” Folio said of the award. “It’s fantastic to be recognized in front of the chamber.”

As part of the event, Smith noted that this year marks the chamber’s 110th anniversary. He said the chamber was founded in 1905 as the Milton Board of Trade.

“As we reflect on our 110-year history, we reflect on the years in business of our members,” Smith said.

A presentation was shown, noting the number of years in business of each member business present at the awards ceremony.

Following the presentation, Smith noted that the businesses represented on Thursday account had a combined total of 3,796 years in operation.

“That’s a big number,” Smith said. “I want to thank you for joining us and for your loyalty and support.”

Staff writer Kevin Mertz can be reached at 570-742-9671 or email

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