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Santa Barbara News-Press: Chamber honors top local business leaders

January 19, 2017
Santa Barbara, California – Published 1/19/2017
By Emily Leslie

The Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce awarded two businesses, one nonprofit organization, and a businesswoman and businessman who were particularly successful and charitable in 2016 during the ninth annual Regional Business Awards luncheon Wednesday afternoon.

Hosted at the La Pacifica Ballroom of the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara, chamber members and city politicians gathered to recognize the winners for their contributions to the Santa Barbara community.

The nonprofit of the year award went to the Santa Barbara City College Foundation, which provides $4 million each year to support student success programs, scholarships and book grants.

Last year the foundation announced SBCC Promise, using privately raised funds to ensure that any local high school graduate can attend SBCC full-time for two years, free of charge.

The Foundation’s Chief Executive Officer Geoff Green accepted the award on the nonprofit’s behalf.

“The Promise is something we are very proud of ? and we stand behind that in perpetuity ? it’s a promise that we make to this local community,” Mr. Green said.

Ten local businesses were nominated for small and large businesses of the year, with each nominee receiving a plaque.

Small business nominees included Brighten Solar, Jack ?N Tool Box, On Q Financial, and Santa Barbara Matchmaking.

The winner was Santa Barbara Sailing Center, which provides sailing instruction, boat and kayak rentals, as well as public and private cruises.

The business donates more than $300,000 each year to charitable groups like the Audubon Society, the Boys & Girls Clubs, the Dream Foundation, and the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

In 2016, the Santa Barbara Sailing Center launched a new website and created a membership program.

“I know we have a lot of competition in the room, but it’s always good to promote everybody, because we all win in Santa Barbara,” owner Skip Abed said as he accepted the award.

The nominees for large business of the year included Acme Hospitality, Armstrong Associates, Santa Barbara Airbus and Village Properties.

But it was the family-owned food and beverage distributor Jordano’s Foodservice, which has been in business for more than 100 years, that took home the prize.

It started as a small business in Santa Barbara and has since expanded to six counties throughout Central and Southern California, becoming the second largest independent broadline foodservice distributor in the state.

Jordano’s supports to Westmont and UCSB sports, the Santa Barbara Zoo and charitable organizations

“This is a wonderful way to cap off our 102nd year in business,” said owner Peter Jordano.

He noted that it was his father and uncle, who were farmers in Goleta, who opened the first store on Upper State Street.

The businesswoman of the year, Trish Miller, owner of local employment agency Spherion, and businessman of the year Tom Caesar, vice president of insurance agency HUB International, were each honored with short biographical videos.

They were recognized for exemplifying the “spirit of giving” and community activism, said chamber President Ken Oplinger.

The annual event included the transition of the chamber’s board of directors chair from 2016 Chairman Nathan Sigler of Cottage Health Systems, to 2017 Chairman Jim Turner of Radius Commercial Real Estate.

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