The 2023 Annual Chamber Awards honor companies and individuals who whose remarkable efforts have propelled the region’s economic growth and enriched the vibrant community that is Centre County.
“This year’s recipients embody the spirit of entrepreneurship, innovation, and business excellence in Centre County” said Greg Scott, President and CEO of the Chamber.
Small Business of the Year Award: Happy Valley Blended Products
Happy Valley Blended Products was started in 1997 by local brothers Barry and Danny Gensimore. They started by utilizing the buildings and silos that were originally part of the Pleasant Gap Agway Feed Store & Milling. They have repurposed a former site and made it productive again, bringing new business and jobs to the area.
The Small Business Award is presented to a business that has built a committed customer base, has a team of employees who are dedicated to success, and leadership with a vision for the future of the company.
Emerging Business of the Year: Carter’s Table
Carter’s Table is a restaurant, started by Shawn Carter, that is inspired by Shawn’s childhood, travels, and passion for serving people. The business started with a stand in the State College Farmer’s Market and grew to a permanent storefront in January of 2023.
The Emerging Business of the Year award represents a business that has hit the ground running with outpaced results and a determination to succeed every day.
Young Professional of the Year: Blanca Jimenez
In 2018 Blanca launched her own cleaning business, now known as Plum, that’s mission is to symbolize their commitment to being the best of the best. Since then, her business has evolved into a thriving business with a team of three managers and eighteen dedicated cleaners.
The award is presented to a Young Professional who is committed to business excellence, and possess an effective work ethic and a positive attitude that invites constructive collaboration.
Employee of the Year: Jenna L. Franks, Esq.
Jenna L. Franks is an Attorney and Partner at Steinbacher, Goodall & Yurchak licensed to practice law in both Pennsylvania and Florida. Jenna joined Steinbacher, Goodall & Yurchak in 2017 and moved back to Pennsylvania to be with family. In April 2022, Jenna became a Partner of the firm. Jenna’s focus is primarily on estate planning, long-term care planning, and special needs planning.
The Employee of the Year award is given to a person who is an integral part of the team, going above and beyond to exceed expectations in the areas of customer service, community involvement, and business projects.
The Business Leader of the Year Award was presented to three individuals who represented a person who has adeptly positioned their business for maximum success bringing outsized exposure to its excellently run facilities, programs, and / or employee interactions.
Healthcare Business Leader of the Year Award: Kathleen Rhine
Kathleen is the President and CEO of Mount Nittany Health, State College. Since joining Mount Nittany health in 2017, she has advanced the development and execution of a long-term capital investment and expansion project to provide state-of-the-art facilities and technology to meet the changing needs of the community.
Tourism Business Leader of the Year Award: Al Karosas, CVE
Al Karosas is the General Manager of the Bryce Jordan Center. A PSU grad, Al has been a part of the BJC since it opened in 1996. He also served as the first General Manager for Pegula Ice Arena as he helped open the venue. Al was instrumental in negotiating the Luke Combs show that will be held at Beaver Stadium this April. He has served on the Penn State Coaches vs. Cancer committee and was recently appointed to the Happy Valley Sports and Entertainment Alliance Board.
Non-profit Business Leader of the Year: Denise Herr McCann
Denise is the Executive Director at Centre Helps, whose mission is to empower anyone in crisis or need, Centre Helps’ compassionate staff and volunteers utilize comprehensive training to provide 24/7 emotional support and connections to resources. She currently serves on the board of Leadership Centre County, the national 988 LGBTQ+ Advisory Board, the Penn State Adolescent Alcohol and Substance Use Advisory Board, and the HOPE Advisory Board. She also consults for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, monitoring Runaway and Homeless Youth programs across the country.