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‘Celebration of the business community’: CBICC lauds volunteers, innovators, entrepreneurs

The Children’s Advocacy Center of Centre County won the Community Service Award during the Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County Gala at the State Theatre on Thursday. Shown accepting the award are CAC Director Kristina Taylor-Porter, right, and Kim Neely, director of The Foundation for Mount Nittany Medical Center.
The Children’s Advocacy Center of Centre County won the Community Service Award during the Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County Gala at the State Theatre on Thursday. Shown accepting the award are CAC Director Kristina Taylor-Porter, right, and Kim Neely, director of The Foundation for Mount Nittany Medical Center. CDT photo

Todd Erdley used his moment in the spotlight as an entrepreneur to laud a program designed to help grow entrepreneurship and drive the local economy.

Erdley and his company, Videon Central, were among nine winners at Thursday night’s Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County awards gala.

Erdley helped develop the CBICC’s 3B33 initiative to drive the county’s annual private-sector revenue to $3 billion by 2033. That would be a jump from yearly revenue of about $700 million now.

Videon Central was honored for corporate philanthropy and also was the winner of the Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award.

“This is not the Todd Erdley award, this is Videon’s award,” Erdley said. “What is an inspiration to me is the other entrepreneurs in this community, especially those under 30, who are the future of the 3B33.”

CBICC President Vern Squier said 3B33 has set a lofty — but attainable — goal.

For nearly a decade, the chamber has recognized the professional achievements of Centre County’s businesses and community leaders. This night started with a movie-themed gathering at Indigo and ended with awards at the State Theatre, both in downtown State College.

“For us, it is a chance to thank our members and the business community generally for their efforts — corporately or individually — in making a difference for the local economy and quality of life in the region,” said CBICC spokeswoman Lesley Kistner. “The entire evening is a celebration of the business community.”

A surprised Sandy Berardis, of Kish Travel, was named CBICC Volunteer of the Year. She thanked the chamber “for making the community more of a hometown than it already was.”

Ben Franklin Technology Partners announced its Big Idea winner — ConidioTec — which took home a $25,000 prize. ConidioTec scientists have developed a natural, urban pest control product to target bed bugs.

Nina Jenkins, of the Penn State department of entomology, and business partner Giovani Bellicanta accepted the Big Idea award for ConidioTec.

“Encouraging and investing in entrepreneurship is the core of Ben Franklin’s mission,” said Stephen Brawley, CEO of Ben Franklin Technology Partners. “We are proud of all the participants who had the energy and guts to take the first step toward starting their own business.”

Jason Olcese, of the local band My Zero Hero, got the crowd pumped with his one-man-band act. He recorded percussion and beat-boxing, and a small trumpet solo to accompany his guitar and vocals. Olcese performed “Hello, hello” — an original piece — along with cover tunes.

He performed last year as well. This year, Olcese got the crowd energized with stomping and clapping.

The event also featured performances by the State College Community Theatre and the Performing Arts School of Central Pennsylvania.

Money raised at the gala will support the chamber and events that promote local businesses and the Centre County economy.

The night drew about 300 people.

“It was fun. Great food, great company and really enjoyed the night,” said Jim Owen, a residential lender with Kish Bank. “There’s so much great talent to recognize that contributes to the community.”

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