Oneonta colleges honor businesses with awards

·2 min read

May 12—Five Oneonta businesses are being recognized for their dedication to diversity and inclusion with a newly established award given jointly by SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College.

According to a SUNY Oneonta media release, the first-ever recipients of the Oneonta Inclusive Business Award are Wise Guys Sammy's, Social Eats Café — Project 607, Oneonta Boys and Girls Club, Boba Yaga and King's Kakery Pastry Shop. The inaugural winners were recognized during a ceremony in their honor on May 9 at SUNY Oneonta's Center for Racial Justice and Inclusive Excellence.

Speakers included Oneonta Mayor Mark Drnek, SUNY Oneonta President Alberto Cardelle, Hartwick College President Darren Reisberg, Otsego County Chamber of Commerce President Sean Lewis, Destination Marketing Corporation for Otsego County Director Cass Harrington, Hartwick College Vice President for Human Resources, Inclusion and Compliance Suzanne Janitz, and SUNY Oneonta Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer Bernadette Tiapo.

"Created this semester, the Oneonta Inclusive Business Award acknowledges local businesses or organizations that have shown exemplary commitment to fostering inclusivity in line with the missions of SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College," Tiapo said in the release. "The role of businesses and organizations in fostering a sense of belonging within a community cannot be over emphasized. To build a thriving and more vibrant community, it is important that our students and employees, as well as residents and visitors to Oneonta feel welcome and supported by the local businesses and organizations. This year's inaugural award recipients have demonstrated such values and we are grateful for their role and impact in fostering inclusivity in the Oneonta community."

Students, faculty and staff from both institutions were invited to vote for their top choices from a pool of 18 nominated businesses. Nominations were solicited through a survey sent to both campus communities. In order to be nominated, businesses had to provide "exceptional service to diverse populations, treat customers with utmost respect and civility, and go above and beyond in meeting the needs of its diverse customer," the release said.

A new call for nominations will go out to both campuses each spring, and the campuses and community will take turns hosting the award ceremony, according to the release.

"We're very excited that this recognition will become an annual tradition," Janitz said. "We want people from all walks of life, including our students, staff and faculty, to feel comfortable and welcomed in Oneonta. And since businesses and organizations play such a key role in creating an inclusive community, it's important that we recognize those efforts. In working together, we can create the kind of community that all of us can be proud to call home."