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CenterState CEO annual meeting includes business awards, speakers

David Schneckenburger, chair of the CenterState CEO board of directors, addresses the gathering at CenterState CEO’s annual meeting held Wednesday at the Nicholas J Pirro Convention Center at Oncenter. Schneckenburger is also president of Thompson & Johnson Equipment Co., Inc. (Eric Reinhardt / CNYBJ)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Mower, American Fashion Network, and Collins Barber & Beauty Shop were among the organizations recognized with awards during CenterState CEO’s annual meeting this week.

Besides the awards, those gathered also heard from a keynote speaker and Robert Simpson, president and CEO of CenterState CEO.

The organization held the event Wednesday afternoon at the Nicholas J. Pirro Convention Center at Oncenter. It marked the release of its annual report.


The event focused on the theme, “Amplifying Opportunity,” and “highlighted Central New York’s progress and explored efforts to ensure all growth is equitable,” per CenterState CEO’s news release about the annual meeting.

 Business of the Year awards

CenterState CEO announced its Business of the Year award winners, recognizing the outstanding achievements of regional businesses and organizations in five categories.

Mower, a Syracuse–based advertising, marketing, and public-relations agency, prevailed in the “More than 50 Employees” category. Additional finalists included Air Innovations Inc. and King + King Architects.

DeWitt–based American Fashion Network won in the “Fewer than 50 Employees” category. Additional finalists included Chimera Integrations and M3 Placement and Partnership

Collins Barber & Beauty Shop took the top prize in the “Minority-owned Business” category, which is presented in partnership with the Upstate Minority Economic Alliance. Additional finalists for the honor included JHP Industrial Supplies Co. and Melody’s.

Symphoria won in the “Nonprofit” category with additional finalists that included Friends of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo and On Point for College.

Oswego Health triumphed in the “Community Involvement” category. Additional finalists included Digital Hyve and National Grid.


The event included a keynote presentation from David Hall, managing partner at Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund. In his remarks, Hall talked about how post-pandemic, midsized cities such as Syracuse are poised to become tech hubs, and what leaders of these communities can do to drive these opportunities.

In his remarks, Simpson shared a message about the shifting economic forces that — in conjunction with massive investments — are expected to impact every aspect of the regional economy. He called on community stakeholders to work together to develop and execute strategies that will ensure the entire community benefits from this growth.

“Our community is no longer in a state of status quo. Micron is an incredible force that has changed our region’s economic trajectory, but it is not the only force working to our advantage,” Simpson said. “The memory market is growing rapidly; offshoring that once devastated our economy is shifting to our benefit; Central New York’s stable and resilient climate is a critical asset to people and businesses. All of this will fuel new opportunities. Our community has the power to shape the speed and direction of this progress. The real challenge is amplifying that growth while ensuring progress doesn’t come at the cost of our region’s accessible natural and cultural amenities, affordability and quality of life, the very things that attracted investments in the first place.”


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