A Greek restaurant owner. A general manager of a storage company. A graphic designer.
These are just some examples of the entrepreneurs whom the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce honored as businesspeople of the year last week for their dedication to their businesses, communities and respective chambers of commerce.
“I applaud this year’s honorees and encourage everyone to take an active role in your Chamber of Commerce because alone we are strong,” said Francesca Carlow, the president of the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce, “but together we are much, much stronger.”
Stephanie Solomon, the Manhasset Chamber of Commerce co-president and owner of Chocolate Works Manhasset, said it was nice to be recognized and that she has loved the support she’s gotten from her community.
“To be recognized by my peers is always an honor,” Solomon, who resides in Roslyn, said.
But, Solomon said, local businesses face great challenges, namely from online stores, and advised that people get involved in their local chambers and community.
“It’s much easier to sit in front of a computer and not go out, but what people need to realize is the trickle-down effect of spending your money locally, the tax benefits it brings to the community, and the jobs,” Solomon said. “The money you’re paying workers gets put back into the community and that helps everybody prosper.”
Port Washington Chamber of Commerce’s honoree was Beth Michalson Fiore, the sole proprietor of GRPHXstudio, a graphic design business. She joined the chamber in 2008 after a friend invited her, she said.
“I’m a graphic designer by trade and I could see they needed help in the area,” Fiore said. “I just knew that I could improve what they were doing and probably attract more of the citizens of Port Washington to their events.”
Since then, she has volunteered time at events like HarborFest, Pride in Port, toy drives and the SOUPer Bowl and worked part-time at Ayhan’s Mediterranean Café— but she never expected to be honored this way.
“It’s wonderful. It’s the first award I’ve ever gotten of this type,” Fiore said. “It encourages me to continue being involved in this way.”
Edna Guilor-Segal, the head of Guilor Architects PC and a former Great Neck village trustee, was honored after 20 years of involvement with the Great Neck Chamber of Commerce.
As a business owner and former official, Guilor-Segal said she has been involved with the development of some buildings on Middle Neck Road and Northern Boulevard. She also noted the importance of the Chamber of Commerce for networking.
“I think it feels nice, but it’s more interesting to me the reaction of everybody around me,” Guilor-Segal said. “That’s even nicer.”
Lawrence Armstrong, the general manager of Moving Ahead Moving & Storage in Garden City Park, said he has tried to get more people involved in the Greater New Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce for many years.
“The most rewarding thing is to just see new members come in and get involved and keep the chamber vital,” Armstrong said, adding that it was an honor to be recognized.
Buffy and Spiros Dimas, the owners of the Williston Park Diner and Old Westbury Diner and members of the Chamber of Commerce of the Willistons, were also recognized by the Nassau Council.
Floral Park Chamber of Commerce’s Donna Gammarato, a founder of Pita Park, a family-owned Greek restaurant, was honored as their businessperson of the year.
Diane C. Duel, affiliated with Sterling National Bank and a vice president and managing director for the Wantagh Financial Center, was selected as the Roslyn Chamber of Commerce’s businessperson of the year. She is also the board secretary for the Moxxie Mentoring Foundation, a nonprofit that mentors young women seeking to enter the business world.
Joel Harris, an event photographer, accountant and former Wall Street banker, was honored as the Mineola Chamber of Commerce’s businessperson of the year.
A member of the Kiwanis, Harris has also helped nonprofits like Ronald McDonald House, TJ for Kids and the Carly Rose Foundation.