Chamber hosts annual awards

Two city businesses were recognized by the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce during its annual awards banquet Wednesday.

Vinnie’s Italian Eatery received the Emerging Business Award and the Williamsport Crosscutters were honored with the Phillips/Plankenhorn Small Business Award.

The Ethel Weinhart Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service was given to Steven Johnson, Ann Pepperman, Bill Martin and Dr. Davie Jane Gilmour for their service on the chamber’s governance committee.

Vinnie’s was forced to close as the result of a fire in 2011 at the downtown eatery. The business re-opened last month at the same site at 44 W. Fourth St.

Tim Keohone, director of the Lock Haven Small Business Development Center, which sponsors the Emerging Business Award, said Vinnie’s has been a part of Williamsport’s downtown business scene since 1987.

He said the same drive that allowed Vinnie Guercio to first open the family-owned business 26 years ago spurred him to re-open.

In accepting the award, Guercio said he appreciated the support of the business community.

For his team’s award, Williamsport Crosscutters General Manager Doug Estes gave much of the credit to the success of the baseball organization to his staff.

He said the Crosscutters strive to bring quality, family entertainment to the community.

Chamber of Commerce President Vincent J. Matteo said the Crosscutters mean a lot to the business community, including the jobs they offer young people seeking summer employment.

The team has been in Williamsport for two decades.

Ron Walko, chairman of the chamber’s board of directors, presented a PowerPoint presentation on the organization’s accomplishments.

In the past year, the chamber sponsored 17 business openings and 10 ribbon cuttings.

It’s the new businesses, Walko noted, that provide opportunities and employment.

The chamber, he said, sponsors community events such as the Little League Grand Slam Parade and the Great Pumpkin Express and the Polar Express train excursions.

The Visitors Bureau serves as important part of the organization. Last year, some 7,900 people visited the site on William Street.

The chamber also reaches out to educational institutions, honoring teachers and students.