Business / Economy

Chamber of Commerce presents annual awards

Three individuals and seven businesses are recognized for their work in 2019.
Man of the Year: Andrew Shelton.
Man of the Year: Andrew Shelton.
Woman of the Year: Krystal Lomanto.
Woman of the Year: Krystal Lomanto.
Ambassador of the Year: Debra Scherer.
Ambassador of the Year: Debra Scherer.
Green Business of the Year: San Benito Dance Academy.
Green Business of the Year: San Benito Dance Academy.
Large Business of the Year: Emergency Vehicle Specialists.
Large Business of the Year: Emergency Vehicle Specialists.
Nonprofit of the Year: Youth Alliance.
Nonprofit of the Year: Youth Alliance.
Service Business of the Year: San Benito County Health and Human Services.
Service Business of the Year: San Benito County Health and Human Services.
Small Business of the Year: Java Express.
Small Business of the Year: Java Express.
Entrepreneur of the Year: Brewery Twenty-Five.
Entrepreneur of the Year: Brewery Twenty-Five.

For the 99th time in its history, the San Benito County Chamber of Commerce has made its selection for Man, Woman and Business of the Year awards.

The 2020 honorees are:

Chamber CEO Michelle Leonard told BenitoLink that the Man and Woman of the Year honorees are selected by a committee of past honorees.

“They have a confidential meeting, review a detailed description of the good deeds done within the community, and are tasked with deciding who this year’s honoree will be,” Leonard said. She added that the Chamber’s board of directors receives community submissions for businesses to be considered, reviews them categorically, and collectively decides which businesses and organizations have stood out in the past year. 

“I am very proud of all the businesses and individuals that were nominated this year,” Leonard said. “Being recognized by the community is something to be proud of and we are very excited that San Benito County has this many businesses and individuals that are making an impact on our community.”

BenitoLink asked some of the honorees what this award means to them. 

Man of the Year Andrew Shelton of Shelton Insurance said he was thankful to his parents and family for teaching him the importance of giving back. He said the award is “a great honor.”

Woman of the Year and County Superintendent of Schools Krystal Lomanto said of her award, “I did not expect it and when I did get the notification I felt very honored and humbled by being recognized by our community.”

Diane Ortiz, executive director of Youth Alliance, named Nonprofit of the Year, said the organization was “grateful to have received the acknowledgement from the Chamber and from the community.” Youth Alliance has served the county for 25 years. She believes “it is a testament to the quality work of the staff and volunteers who have been here for this long” to have been selected.

Java Express, the Chamber’s Small Business of the Year, has also operated for 25 years. Manager Brooke Taylor said it was exciting and rewarding to receive the honor.

“We appreciate the continued support of community after 25 years,” she said.

After nearly seven years in business, Brewery Twenty-Five received its first-ever award when the Chamber named the brewery Entrepreneur of the Year.

“It is exciting and means so much since it is a local award,” said co-owner Fran Fitzharris. 

Winners will be honored at the annual Awards Dinner Dance on Feb. 22 at Leal Vineyards Barrel Room, 300 Maranatha Drive in Hollister.

Carmel de Bertaut

Carmel has a BA in Natural Sciences/Biodiversity Stewardship from San Jose State University and an AA in Communications Studies from West Valley Community College. She reports on science and the environment, arts and human interest pieces. Carmel has worked in the ecological and communication fields and is an avid creative writer and hiker. She has been reporting for BenitoLink since May, 2018 and covers Science and the Environment and Arts and Culture.