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  • Writer's pictureSBDC @ JCC

SBDC Announces Entrepreneurship of the Year Award Winners During National Small Business Week

(May 1, 2023) Every year since 1963, the President of the US has issued a proclamation announcing National Small Business Week which recognizes the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the US each year. The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Jamestown Community College is honored to recognize the tremendous efforts of the local small business community and announce the Entrepreneurs of the Year during National Small Business Week. The SBDC delivers high quality business counseling and training to clients looking to start a business or improve the performance of an existing business. Services are free and confidential.

The SBDC is pleased to recognize the following small business owners in Chautauqua and Cattaraugus County as Entrepreneurs of the Year for 2022:

Connie and Jack Thayer, Portage Pie

Mary and Steven Farmilant, LUMI Café

Emily and Sam Gardner, Gardner Chiropractic

Laura Green, La Dolce Vita

These individuals were selected for their successes owning small businesses in our region and have been nominated to receive awards at the state level as well. Each has overcome obstacles and contributed to the economic growth of the area.

The SBDC is honored to work with the small business community in Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, and Allegany County. According to SBDC Director, Courtney Curatolo, “These individuals have not only inspired the SBDC team of advisors, but also inspire others interested in starting their own small business in our region. It has been very fulfilling watching each of these individuals grow their businesses and see success in a period of economic uncertainty.”

The SBDC is also proud to announce that Hector Alverio, owner of Hotspot Café, has been named the SBA Buffalo Minority Champion of the Year after being nominated by his SBDC Business Advisor, Danny Hickman. As a minority entrepreneur, Hector Alverio opened his café on Valentine’s Day 2020, just before the onset of the Covid 19 pandemic. During the shut-down he implemented take out service and not only survived, but thrived. He has continued to grow his business into catering ventures as well.

Connie and Jack Thayer, owners of Portage Pie in Westfield, NY, have seen tremendous growth in their business over the last ten years and sell around 800 pies a week now. They have attracted a strong customer base and become nationally recognized. Talent, ingenuity, desire, hard work, intelligence and common sense have all been a part of the Portage Pie success story that now includes 5-10 employees, including a second generation of family.

Mary and Steven Farmilant, owners of LUMI Café in Chautauqua Institution, NY, opened their business in 2022 and plan to operate from May-September providing small menu grab and go deli sandwiches, coffee, local flowers, and a daily revolving to go dinner offering. They employ 6 local people for the summer and are excited to open again in May 2023 for the full Chautauqua season.

Emily and Sam Gardner, owners of Gardner Chiropractic in Olean, NY, were dedicated to making their dream become a reality and opened their business in December 2021. In spite of the covid pandemic, the Gardners have built a steady stream of clients, added new revenue streams with retail items, hired additional staff and are looking to expand by offering more therapeutic services.

Laura Green, owner of La Dolce Vita in Olean, NY, set out to open a higher end café in a quiet and relaxing setting. She was able to pivot to take out services during the pandemic but is excited to see dine in customers returning. With her unique menu and quality of food and baked goods, Laura has created a space for customers to gather and talk over delicious cuisine.

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Jamestown Community College (JCC) vision is to create economic sustainability for all New Yorkers – one business at a time.The SBDC delivers high quality business counseling and training to clients looking to start a business or improve the performance of an existing business.Services are free and confidential and include a range of management and technical assistance from business plan development, accounting guidance, productivity enhancement and export assistance to loan information, marketing, and financial planning among other services.For services and more information contact 716-338-1024 or go to our website at

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