SUNY and New York Small Business Development Centers Announce the 2021 Client Awards

July 26, 2022

Eight Awardees Honored at Special Virtual Event Today

Albany, NY – State University of New York and its New York Small Business Development Centers today announced the winners of the 2021 Client Awards, which honor small businesses across the state for their community connections, entrepreneurship, growth, and perseverance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The New York SBDC provided direct support to more than 26,000 small businesses from every corner of the state in 2021. The eight awardees are being honored today during a virtual ceremony, which includes client award winners, SBDC staff, and key program stakeholders.

"Across SUNY's Small Business Development Centers, our team of experts serve as partners for the next generation of small businesses, and we are proud to see these companies thrive during the most challenging circumstances in our recent history," said SUNY Interim Chancellor Deborah F. Stanley. "This year's award winners are at the top of their fields, and as the result, are able to grow their businesses further. Congratulations to all of the innovative, hardworking, and inspiring 2021 New York SBDC Client Award recipients."

NYSBDC State Director Sonya Smith said, "We are excited to celebrate and acknowledge the creativity and undeniable grit of these small business owners in the face of hardship. The annual award ceremony also gives us a chance to highlight the work of the advisors, directors, and community partners who assisted along the way. Today and every day, we celebrate and support the cafés, retailers, salons, karaoke bars, carnivals, and grassroots institutions that make a town feel like home. We look forward to continuing to serve small businesses across New York and can't wait to see what these awardees do next."

Gregory R. Carballada, AIA President, Foit-Albert Associates, Architecture, Engineering and Surveying PC, said, "As President of Foit-Albert Associates, I am honored to be recognized with the 'New York SBDC Entrepreneur of the Year Award.' I am proud of the firm's accomplishments and wish to recognize our counselor Glamis Haro; she has been very helpful providing us with the latest information on federal assistance programs for small businesses such as loans and others. She is also very attentive to keeping us informed about upcoming events that can benefit our firms, such as small business matchmakers, outreach events, and building capacity workshops to help our business grow with the necessary tools."

2021 Client Awards

Community Business of the Year

Ashville General Store – Owner, Jackie Francis
Binghamton SBDC
SBDC Advisors – Scott Bloor and Scott Miller

This business is a community focal point that has grown into a tourist destination. The business had its best sales year in 2020 despite the pandemic. The owner has worked with advisors at the Binghamton and Jamestown SBDCs.

Minority Entrepreneur of the Year

Hot Spot Café – Owner, Hector Alverio
Jamestown SBDC
SBDC Advisor – Danny Hickman

Hector Alverio opened his café in 2020 during the pandemic and thrived with minimal financial assistance. Since restrictions were lifted, city officials, police officers, and downtown business owners regularly visit the cafe for breakfast and lunch. He has expanded his staff to five.

Female Entrepreneur of the Year

BlackHawk Data – Owner, Maryann Pagano
Farmingdale SBDC
SBDC Advisor – Troy Diaz

The company provides managed services, assessments, enhanced maintenance, strategic planning, and design and integration.

Phoenix Business of the Year

Leon Etienne Magic Productions – Owner, Leon Etienne
Mohawk Valley SBDC
SBDC Advisor – Zach Steffen

Leon Etienne has been billed as "America's Rock Illusionist." Because of the pandemic, he did not perform for several months. With help from the SBDC and with COVID-relief funding, Etienne was back on stage beginning in May 2021. This year, he had a residency in Las Vegas and is doing summer magic camps for kids.

Veteran Entrepreneur of the Year

Black Parakeetz Paint, Swig & Sing! – Owner, Terence Clarke
Rockland SBDC
SBDC Advisors – Andrea Giraldo and Adi Israeli

Veteran Terence Clarke and his wife love karaoke so much that they decided to start a karaoke bar in Nyack. Their business also includes a paint-and-sip studio.

Family-owned Business of the Year

All County Amusements – Owners, Robert and Sondra Grauer
Stony Brook SBDC
SBDC Advisor – Willa Smith

In 2020, the business was completely shut down due to COVID; SBDC helped with applications for relief funding and business succession planning. As the economy began to open up in 2021, the business began receiving calls again to set up carnivals across Long Island.

Growth Business of the Year

Foit-Albert Associates – Owner, Gregory Carballada
Columbia Harlem SBDC
SBDC Advisor – Glamis Haro

This architectural and engineering company is a minority/disadvantaged business enterprise and is a member of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. With SBDC's assistance, the business has had revenue growth of 100 percent over the last five years.

Procurement Entrepreneur of the Year

New York Embroidery Studio - Michelle Feinberg
Baruch and Mohawk Valley SBDCs
SBDC Advisors – Leo Zhang and Gina Hayduk

NYES is a design studio and manufacturing facility in New York City's Garment District. Owner and creative director Michelle Feinberg, sensed there a dire need for more PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic. She consulted the SBDC for guidance about contracting opportunities and locating additional buyers. Leo Zhang at the Baruch SBDC engaged Gina Hayduk at the Mohawk Valley SBDC to help with the contracting aspect. She provided guidance on identifying bids and reviewing them before submission. Ultimately Michelle was awarded a $79 million contract with the Department of Defense, and received PPP and EIDL funding. Currently Michelle employs 1,000 staff (up from 48) and is the largest maker of PPP gowns in NYC.

About the New York Small Business Development Center

The New York SBDC works closely with other state economic development agencies, faculty, and students at host institutions as well as representatives from private industry and business to focus resources on assisting small businesses and entrepreneurs. The SBDC emphasizes counseling and training services to women, veterans, people with special needs, and minority clients. Their work also includes connecting potential employers with job placement offices on SUNY campuses. This effort links SUNY students and alumni to jobs in the community. The New York SBDC's full-time professional business advisors undergo rigorous professional certification to keep their business knowledge up-to-the-minute and their counseling skills sharp. Their skills are augmented by the New York SBDC Research Network—one of the most advanced business information resources in the country. The Research Network, located in Albany, New York, provides New York SBDC business advisors with the latest economic, demographic, regulatory, and other data that can have an impact on small business success. Established in 1984, the New York SBDC has worked with more than 519,000 businesses, helping them to invest $7.5 billion in the state economy and create more than 240,000 jobs. To find a local SBDC: To read the full SBDC Annual Report, click here.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2023, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

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Holly Liapis
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