NEW BRITAIN - The Greater New Britain Chamber of Commerce held its 104th annual awards dinner Thursday night, honoring several businesses and businesspeople for their contributions to the region.
The Greater New Britain Chamber of Commerce encompasses businesses in New Britain, Berlin and Plainville. Before awards were dished out, Mayor Erin Stewart and Berlin Mayor Mark Kaczynski spoke briefly about business in their respective municipalities the past year.
“We’ve been long-known as the Hardware City, but we’re slowing reinventing ourselves,” Stewart said, while saying the city’s Grand List is on pace to grow by more than 4 percent next year.
Kaczynski also spoke of his town’s growth.
“We had a great last two years. We had 40 businesses in the last two years that have either moved and expanded in Berlin or relocated to Berlin,” Kaczynski said.
This year’s recipient of the Distinguished Community Service Award was Frances Wolski, a lifelong city resident whose involvement in local religious and civic institutions spans more than 50 years, including spending time 12 years on the Board of Education.
“New Britain is everything to me,” Wolski said after receiving the award. “I feel that there is no other place on Earth that I would want to live but in New Britain, because of its diversity, its neighborhoods, its education, its government. Everything about it is, for me, I think just perfect.”
The Winged Victory Downtown Award was presented to Vincent Placeres, owner and operator of Mofongo Restaurant. Placeres opened up his restaurant at 260 Main St. earlier this year.
“When I decided to do this restaurant, I had a lot of feedback: ‘Why don’t you try somewhere else? Why New Britain?’ I said ‘you know what? New Britain is a great community,’” Placeres said. “This restaurant is a restaurant for the community.”
The chamber’s annual Beehive Business and Industry Award was presented to the Alvarium Beer Co. Mike Larson, Chris DeGasero and Brian Bugnacki founded the company in 2016 and officially opened up the brewery at 365 John Downey Dr. in June.
“We built this business between the three of us. Every aspect of it from demolition to build-out to brewing the beer,” Larson said after accepting the award. “We’re happy to call New Britain home.”
The chamber’s Nonprofit Organization of the Year is the Opportunities Industrialization Center of New Britain, an organization that specializes in human services, job training and job placement for young adults in the community.
“Since opening 46 years ago, they have helped more than 46,000 people find employment,” said Robin Sharp, the chamber’s outgoing chairwoman.
The Family Business Award will be given to the Kirejczyk family, who own and operate the EDRO Corp. in East Berlin.
Skyler Frazer can be reached at 860-801-5087 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @SFrazerNBH.