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Small Business Development Center recognizes ‘Black Excellence in Business’

Updated: Mar. 01, 2024, 1:21 p.m.| Published: Mar. 01, 2024, 12:50 p.m.

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- The Staten Island Small Business Development Center (SISBDC), together with the College of Staten Island (CSI) and Councilmember Kamillah M. Hanks, recently hosted an event honoring the borough’s Black entrepreneurs in celebration of Black History Month. Titled “Black Excellence in Business,” the gathering was held at CSI’s Center for the Arts in Willowbrook, and featured several keynote speakers and an awards presentation.

“As a councilmember, I am steadfast in my commitment to fostering diversity and equity,” Hanks said of the event. “Entrepreneurs, particularly those from the Black community, play a pivotal role in advancing this mission. They have long been the vanguard of our society, contributing immensely to our collective progress. Yet, our work is far from over. We must persist in opening doors for aspiring entrepreneurs, ensuring they have equal access to resources. Simultaneously, we must bolster support for current Black business owners, equipping them with the tools needed for success.”

SISBDC Interim Regional Director Edward Piszko introduced four panelists, who participated in a discussion and briefly summarized their path to success and the struggles they have faced as Black entrepreneurs. Among the speakers were: Mark Adeniji, owner of A Final Touch Construction Inc.; Roosevelt Board, franchise owner of the Staten Island Chick-fil-A; Claudette Duff, owner of Integrity Senior Services, and Wayne Roye, owner of Troinet.

The SBDC, a national organization, has served over 25,000 clients and granted more than $400 million in investments for start-up and established businesses. In 2023, the organization helped to launch over 4,000 businesses.

Sonya Smith, who is beginning her third year as director of the group’s New York state branch, spoke to guests about SBDC’s goals to increase the center’s involvement in underserved and diverse communities. “It’s not just to be equal, but to be equitable,” said Smith.

Seven Staten Island entrepreneurs were honored for their leadership success. Honorees included: Dr. Chi Gibson, Chi Aesthetics; Ronald Gregg, Gregg & Associates; Dr. Janet Leslie, Gift of Experience; Kurron Mangin, Crafthouse; Deana Jean, Intentional Excellence Consulting and The Success Tribe Network; Wayne Roy, Troinet; Shawn Stradford, Stradford Funeral Home. Pictured above with Doctor Timothy Lynch, President CSI; Edward Piszko, Interim Regional Director SISBDC; Linda Baran, President and CEO SI Chamber of Commerce; Sonya Smith, State Director NY SBDC and the panelist speakers. (Courtesy of Debra Denmark, SISBDC)

“The evening was a great opportunity to add a new chapter to Staten Island Black History by recognizing the excellent achievements of black business owners,” Edward Piszko said. “The ability of the 100-plus attendees to hear the panelists discuss individual challenges and successes delivered a resounding message. Highlighting and recognizing the honorees is essential to recognizing their hard-earned accomplishments.”

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