Member businesses and individuals of The Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce were recognized during the organization’s Annual Meeting held virtually on Wednesday, February 10th, sponsored by PPL Electric Utilities.
Nearly 100 people attended the event which celebrated outstanding member achievements, elected members to the Board of Directors, highlighted Chamber activities of the past year, and previewed the year ahead. The membership also approved an updated, more concise mission statement for the organization. The new statement is “To represent local employers in supporting vibrant, sustainable communities in Columbia and Montour counties.”
The Chamber’s five annual awards were presented to businesses and individuals for their significant contributions to the community. The following awards were presented to the following recipients:
(Sponsored by Berwick Industrial Development Association)
Frontline Healthcare Workers
The Small Business of the Year award is presented to a member business or organization of 30 employees or fewer than has done one or more of the following: demonstrated business or community leadership evidenced by diversification and creativity in the development of new products, services and/or markets; demonstrated staying power and positive response to adversity; or demonstrated community involvement.
The genesis of the business began in 2006 as the Basons began roasting small batches of coffee for their personal use. During a meeting with their friend and Pastor, he noted how much different fresh roasted coffee tasted. Of course the Pastor was right and the obsession grew as friends also enjoyed the Basons’ quickly expanding hobby.
In 2011, Bason Coffee Roasting was formed after they realized that a commercial roaster was needed to keep up with the demand. Their third bay garage was quickly turned into our roastery, production, and warehousing area.
As they embark on their 10th year in business in 2021, they look back on great success. They are a staple at the Bloomsburg Fair, have found success in wholesale, retail, private label and had a positive impact on local schools, sports teams and nonprofits with their fundraisers. The Bason family has a giving spirit. From Christmas morning coffee delivery to frontline heath care workers annually, to supporting special events and foreign missions, they are always eager to support the community. No first responder on duty pays for a cup of coffee at Bason. When the pandemic hit, they were quick to respond with a coffee delivery to the hospital for front line workers, they developed a special blend with a label “I am a Warrior on the Frontline” with a portion of each bag’s proceeds supporting the local food bank.
The Large Business of the Year Award, is presented to a business with 31 or more employees, and the criteria is the same as for the Small Business of the Year.
While First Columbia supports many community organizations and events, they have a particular focus on our area youth. To help young people establish good money management skills, they sponsor the Everfi Financial Education curriculum in five local high schools and two middle schools. In addition, their bankers visit classrooms to talk with students about personal finance, banking and internet security.
First Columbia has also offered internship opportunities and part time employment for both high school and college students, giving them real world, hands on experience. They’ve hired a number of area graduates from Bloomsburg University and local high schools.
And each year, First Columbia proudly offers scholarships to local graduating seniors.
In support of athletics, First Columbia is a Gold Plus sponsor of BU Husky athletics which provides scholarships to student athletes. At the high school level, the Bank has purchased a number of scoreboards for school gymnasiums and athletic fields. They also support America’s favorite pastime, with sponsorship of area’s Little League organizations.
The Teen Star Musical Competition has become the Bank’s signature annual event. Wanting to do more to encourage youth in music and the performing arts, the Bank created this musical competition for high school students in 2011. Since its debut in 2011, First Columbia has donated $40,000 in ticket proceeds back to the finalists’ high school music departments and awarded another $40,000 to the winners and finalists of the competition. While the Bank could simply write a check to support the schools’ music programs, they chose instead to create a rewarding and exciting experience for students-and a great afternoon of entertainment for our community. This program continued virtually in 2020 to ensure the opportunity for talented teens in our area continued.
The Independent Community Bankers of America and the Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers have recognized First Columbia for this creative and engaging program.
The Community Progress Award goes to a member business or organization that showed improvement in the internal or external appearance of a commercial property through either new construction, renovation, restoration or remodeling, and completed that construction within the last three calendar years or by December 2020.
PB&J Bar, which is short for The Plant-Based and Juice Bar, is located on Mill Street in Danville in the former Pappas Restaurant location. The iconic green building was in need of repair and was deteriorating on the outside from sitting vacant for a number of years. Owners Christian and Shannon have done much of the work themselves.
PB&J offers breakfast, lunch, and food to go, providing healthier plant-based options and fresh juices and smoothies.
The Outstanding Citizen Award is presented to an individual that is an employee or volunteer of a member organization who is involved in civic activities beneficial to the Columbia Montour region and who projects a positive community image.
Our area nurses, doctors, and support staff have had to continually adapt to meet the demands of the health care crisis. While shifting resources to deal with the influx of COVID-19 patients, they have continued to meet the urgent medical needs of area residents. Required safety protocols and equipment have made these duties even more challenging, and a number of them have become infected themselves despite their best efforts. They’ve sacrificed time away from their families in an effort to keep them safe and serve patients. There are not enough words to express our gratitude to all of these people who have been on the front line of this crisis throughout. And their work is far from over.
The Nonprofit of the Year Award is presented to a nonprofit organization with 100 or fewer employees that has provided diversified and creative aid to the Columbia Montour region utilizing business, personal, and community resources.
The Community Giving Foundation has truly demonstrated nonprofit leadership within our community in so many ways. Its Disaster Relief Fund provided over $368,000 in grants to 78 non-profit organizations to allow them to continue to provide critical services during the COVID-19 crisis. The Foundation also worked with both Columbia and Montour counties to quickly set up an online application and process grant applications for non-profits and businesses. Sixty-two non-profits and 206 businesses received financial assistance through these programs funded by the CARES Act. The Berwick Health & Wellness Fund advisory committee also provided small grants to help boost the mental and physical health of non-profit teams with a “Healthy workplace” grant program.
In December, the Foundation re-branded as Community Giving Foundation though the commitment to the region and the many stakeholders that make its work possible remains the same. The Foundation continues to expand its impact by working with donors to establish funds that change lives, creating increased funding for vital and changing charitable needs.
The staff is also engaged in the community through serving on various boards and committees and in activities throughout the year.
The Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit organization that represents nearly 430 businesses and organizations from the Columbia and Montour region.