A ceremony and award banquet took place during the Remarkable Women of the Bronx breakfast at the Hunts Point Recreation Center on Wednesday, April 23.
Thompson presented achievement awards to Maureen O’Conner, CEO of Center Sheet Metal, Inc. and Bernadette Nation, director of the emergency response unit of the NYC Department of Small Business.
The Women’s Business Resource Center, a branch of the Hunts Point EDC, also presented three awards for the entrepreneurial talents of innovation, home-based business and service.
“I was very surprised to receive this honor,” O’Conner, who received the Trailblazer Entrepreneurial Award, said. “It was a great honor to meet the comptroller and actually have him present the award.”
O’Conner said she joined Center Sheet Metal shortly after her father founded the company 30 years ago, and has been proud to call Hunts Point EDC director Josephine Infante an ally in making the neighborhood a great place to do business for the last 15 years.
“It is a good story to encourage women to say ‘Yes, you can go out and be an entrepreneur.’” O’Conner explained. “My business, which is a few blocks away, is like my second home in the Bronx.”
The WBRC supports small, neighborhood businesses in Hunts Point owned and operated by women.
Thanks to help she received from the WBRC, Raven Cardona, proprietor of The Nevermore Store, got her start selling clothes and other items to heavy metal enthusiasts in a storefront on Southern Boulevard.
Cardona accepted WBRC’s Innovative Business Award from Glenis Henriquez, director of the Economic and Financial Opportunity Division of NYC SBS.
“It feels really good to get this award for innovation,” Cardona noted. “My store has grown a lot in the last eight months, and it’s thanks to the help I received from the Women’s Business Resource Center. It is defiantly a one-of-a-kind store in the Bronx.”
Other winners of the WBRC Entrepreneur awards were Susan Matos of K & S Tax Services and Ann Morris of Magic Commercial Cleaning Service.
Several new women-owned businesses displayed their products while the attendees ate breakfast. The new enterprises included Diamond Uniforms, Ms. Geneva’s 50/50 Restaurant, Aqui Me Quedo Deli and Grocery Store and Ecuarico organic spices.
“It is early in the morning,” Thompson said, “but I am wide awake now, looking at all of the entrepreneurial projects here.”