The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, on Feb. 4, honored four professionals who have made exemplary contributions to Brooklyn, and to business that represent diversity in African Caribbean Communities, during a Black History celebration, at the Billie Holiday Theatre in Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza.
Dr. Roy A. Hastick Sr., a Grenadian who migrated to the US in the seventies, was emotional, as he talked about standing on the shoulders of African-Americans who endured lynching so that he could become successful in America.
Hastick parked cars at the World Trade Center, but later, became a powerful inspiration in the Caribbean community. He was vice chair of Community Board 9, served as an elected delegate to the White House Conference on Small Business, and founded the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CACCI), with 10 board members.
A Brooklyn Borough President Ambassador, social worker, community advocate, entrepreneur, newspaper publisher and radio and television announcer, Hastick who did it all, announced that the building containing 255 units of affordable housing on Caton Avenue, will be the headquarters of the Caribbean Trade and Cultural Center, and Caton Market, slated for 2021, was presented with the inaugural Samuel Dunston Award for Business Excellence by Renée V. McClure, co-chair, Minority & Women-Owned Business Enterprise Committee/BCC.
Samuel Dunston, for whom the award was named, was presented with the first such, for Business Excellence and for his vision, for the Chamber’s (MWBE) Minority Women Business Enterprise, committee.
Dunston, president and founder of National Allotment Insurance Agency, recognized as an innovative leader in the insurance and employee benefits, with over 50 years of excellence in employer / union sponsored benefit plans, simply said, “thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Bill Howell, president and CEO of Howell Industries, founded in 1985, and who started in the petroleum industry as a Texaco wholesale oil distributor, credits the BCC with creating the foundation for his business to succeed.
Howell, who serves on the board of directors and is co-chair of the Economic Empowerment Committee of One Hundred Black Men, lauded the group for mentoring black boys, and its contribution of $100,000 yearly scholarships.
Juliet Lewis co-chair, Minority & Women-Owned Business Enterprise Committee/BCC, presented Howard with the award for his vision in co-founding the Minority Women Owned business committee.
Lillian T. Bowman, CEO and founder of Lillian’s Professional Services, a premier income tax and multi-business service center that has served Bedford-Stuyvesant community for over two decades was presented with the first award as Outstanding Brooklyn Chamber’s MWBE Entrepreneur.
Bowman saids she was passionate about providing good service to people who come into her office, and recruited her family and friends, whose contribution helped to make her business a success.
She transformed a home-based business with commercial space on Fulton Street, enabling her to serve the community at large. Her role on the Brooklyn Chamber’s MWBE Committee embodies her generous spirit of collaboration and giving back to the community.
For their contributions, the honorees were draping with the Ghana- iconic Kent material, by Ghana-born, Gerry Kwabena Adinkra, a Brooklyn Borough President Ambassador, and president of the Annual Ghana Kente Festival in New York.
Eric Gonzalez, district attorney, lauded BBC for its work.
“As we celebrate Black History Month, lets not forget the thousands of leaders who need to be recognized. I want to congratulate all the honorees. Thank you all for what you have done, let’s keep advocating to make sure we get our fair share of the pie for our community,” he urged.
President & CEO, Randy Peers, in closing remarks, noted that the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce has a long history of honoring and celebrating the contributions of African and Caribbean business leaders, who have done so much for the borough.
“The event this year is special because the organization didn’t hold the event last year, so I promised as the new president, I would return to our roots. Our four honorees have long and distinguished histories serving Brooklyn. We also saw a glimpse of he future as well, thanks to 11-year-old entrepreneur Obocho Peters, who has such a bright future ahead of him.”
‘We are grateful to all those who joined us at this signature event, and we pledge to continue to support and grow our programs for minority and women-owned business enterprises throughout Brooklyn,” said Peers.
He also announced that Brooklyn and Ghana hope to come together around commerce, if a planned trip to the West African nation on a trade mission successfully brings about a trade and business relationship.
Board Chair of BCC, Ana Oliveira, applauded the celebration, noting the importance of contributions made in the community. “Brooklyn has inspired us to play an important part in minority and women owned business,” she said.
Other politicians in attendance included Democratic council member for the 35th District of the New York City Council, Laurie Cumbo and Commissioner at NYC Department of Small Business Services, Greg Bishop.