2016 NEOHCC Entrepreneur of the Year Gala

Our Friday concluded at the 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year Gala of the Northeast Ohio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (NEOHCC) that was held at the 100th Bomb Group restaurant on Brookpark Road.

Also attending this event from Margaret W. Wong and Associates was Ms. Elizabeth Cusma who was escorted by her fiancé, Mr. Oliver Renwick. We networked for an hour before dinner and made about 20 new contacts including Mr. Don Barrett who is the owner of the building where the NEOHCC is located, Mr. Dennis Boose from Dollar Bank who is also a city councilman from North Ridgeville and Mr. Jesse A. Guardardo, a professional graphic designer and custom framer.

We saw our friend Mr. Luis Cartagena who we had not seen for a while and learned that he is now an Inclusion Officer with the Department of Public works and at dinner we shared a table with Mr. George Pimentel, the President of Small Business Accounting Services, LLC who used to be the director of the small business development program for the NEOHCC. 


When the program started, Ms. Jenice Contreras, Executive Director of NEOHCC, spoke eloquently as she praised the dedication of her fellow NEOHCC staff members who work with “passion and commitment” to economic development particularly in the Hispanic community. She said that one of the rules by which the NEOHCC operates is that “we can do better and we can do more and our community deserves better.” 

Receiving awards that night were the Campus Grille in Berea (Groundbreaking Business Award); Allstate Industrial at 50th and Lorain Avenue in Ohio City (Community Pillar Award); and PNC Bank (Padrino-Visionary Partner Award for “an influential individual or institution in the marketplace that provides support and plays a leading or visionary role in shaping our mission at the Chamber and Center).

Mr. Rafael Rivera, the President of Allstate Industrial which is a provider of safety equipment and supplies, gave a particularly moving acceptance speech as he maintained the most important asset that he had was his family and how especially tough things were when he son was serving in Iraq because it is difficult enough to try to run a business when times are good but to have his son’s safety in the back of his mind the whole time was most stressful. He appreciated having a resource like the NEOHCC to turn to for advice and counsel when it was needed because rules and regulations favored big corporations instead of small businesses.

His parting advice to other entrepreneurs was to conduct their businesses with “honesty and integrity” and to treat one’s “smallest customer with the same dignity and respect as you do your biggest customer.” 


Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC