Seneca County Chamber of Commerce Holds 50th Annual Dinner Meeting & Awards Ceremony

The Seneca County Chamber of Commerce held its 50th Annual Dinner Meeting on January 18 to a crowd of over 300 at Club 86 in Geneva. The event, sponsored by del Lago Resort & Casino, featured live entertainment, a year in review video, presentations from board leadership, live and silent auctions, and several award presentations (full award write ups, bios and quotes included below).

2018 Business of the Year– Presented to: Finger Lakes Textiles
(Sponsored by Generations Bank)

Lifetime Achievement Award– Presented to: Roderick E. Coe
(Sponsored by Lyons National Bank)

Citizen of the Year Award– Presented to: Melissa Nesbit
(Sponsored by CFCU Community Credit Union)

2018 Rising Star Award– Presented to: Erica Spencer
(Sponsored by ITT Goulds Pumps)

Additional award information:
2018 Business of the Year Award
Presented to: Finger Lakes Textiles

Sponsored by: Generations Bank

[Criteria: The Business of the Year must be a member of the Chamber and have been established for two or more years. Nominees are recognized for member service, contributions to the growth of our economy and outstanding business achievement.]

Finger Lakes Textiles has grown into one of the region’s leading manufacturers—a success story that reflects the true meaning of what it means to be “Made in America.”
The business is a major producer of apparel for the United States military (Army, Navy and Air Force) as well as the Department of Corrections.
The talented employees are skilled in a variety of tasks that contribute to the company’s lean manufacturing process. They are all cross-trained and able to quickly adapt to each day’s production requirements. They work with laser focus and take great pride in the finished product – winter hats (both knitted and fleece). Every month, the business ships thousands of merchandise to customers all over the world.

The hats are special, but it has nothing to do with their shape, size or color — rather it’s what they represent. Finger Lakes Textiles is an inclusive employer. Its workforce is an integrated mix of individuals with many levels of ability. For the last 25 years, it has been affiliated with the Arc of Seneca Cayuga, the region’s largest provider of services to people with developmental disabilities.
To facilitate their substantial growth trajectory, a major expansion is underway at Finger Lakes Textiles. In addition to adding more room for production and warehousing, the business is also expanding its capabilities through technology. A new digital cutting machine, similar to a giant cookie cutter that slices through raw fabric, provides the ability to quickly and efficiently mold a variety of new products.

“Arctic Gear,” the newest product line is viewed as an important step in diversifying the company’s revenue stream. Launched in 2018, the venture allows the business to commercialize its celebrated products to a much wider audience – through a variety of e-commerce and social media sites.
Finger Lakes Textiles is a small business with a big heart. Their ability to embrace diversity and redefine the modern workforce has helped fundamentally change their organization and the perceptions that others have of it.

– Excerpt taken from the Chamber’s “Gateway Connections Magazine”


Lifetime Achievement Award
Presented to: Roderick E. Coe
Sponsored by: Lyons National Bank

[Criteria: The Lifetime Achievement award recognizes the significant accomplishments of an individual and their impact on the growth of our community over a sustained period of time.]

Rick Coe is a visionary. Inspired by his early family life, he had a vision to leave his mark on many who would benefit from the self-less service that would become the hallmark of his life’s work.
As the son of Richard and the late Margaret Coe, Rick was raised in Camden, NY with his three siblings: Terri, Rhonda and Daniel.

He attended Camden Central High School and completed degree programs from both Herkimer County Community College and SUNY Oswego. In 1979, he graduated from the Simmons School of Mortuary Science in Syracuse, NY (the school was previously known as the Genung School of Embalming).

His career brought him to the Finger Lakes, where he worked as a Resident and Licensed Director for both the S.J. Genung & Son Funeral Home in Waterloo as well as the DeVaney Funeral Home in Geneva. In 1983, at the age of 23, he purchased the Waterloo Funeral Home and renamed it Coe Genung.

His professional experience led him to help create and facilitate Stepping Stones — a bereavement support group for kids and adults in Seneca and Wayne counties. He also helped create the Seneca County Bereavement Support Group—an organization that has served residents in our community for over 23 years.

Rick has received numerous awards for his volunteerism – most notably the Service Above Self Award and Paul Harris Fellow Award from the Waterloo Rotary. He is a member of the NYS Funeral Directors Association, the National Funeral Directors Association and a Life Member of the Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society. He currently serves as board member and co-chair for the fundraising committee of the Waterloo Library & Historical Society, member of the Seneca County Substance Abuse Coalition and is President and founding board member of Pathway Home of the Finger Lakes.

“This award is a significant recognition for the culmination of years of work, dedication and volunteerism to help others in many ways.”- Rick Coe


Citizen of the Year Award
Presented to: Melissa Nesbit
Sponsored by: CFCU Community Credit Union
[Criteria: The Citizen of the Year award recognizes an individual for their outstanding service and voluntary contributions for the development of our community over the past year.]

Melissa Nesbit has committed herself to making a difference in our community. Born in Geneva, NY, she graduated from DeSales High School and attended Assumption College in Worcester, MA.
Following her education, she returned to the area and began raising a family with her husband John. The couple has two children, John III and Macy.

For the past four years, she has served as the Executive Director of Seneca Housing. In her role, she has overseen the growth of the agency—helping significantly increase its capacity to assist low-income families obtain housing. The agency has been designated as a NYS High Performer during every year of Melissa’s tenure. She has also played an instrumental role in helping provide housing to the area’s homeless veterans.

In 2017, she started the organization’s first-ever Masquerade Ball — a fundraiser designed to create permanent housing for veterans — with all proceeds going towards the cause. The event has raised nearly $30,000 in two years, created several strategic partnerships for veteran housing assistance and allowed the agency to move forward with its first phase of a planned development.
In addition to her work, Melissa also volunteers for a number of local charities and civic groups. She is Vice President of Waterloo Rotary, Co-Chair of the St. Francis & St. Clare Summer Festival, a member of the Celebrate Commemorate Committee and a partner of the Seneca Housing Coalition.

Among her biggest accomplishments in 2018, Melissa helped create the highly successful Waterloo Farmer’s Market. The community event regularly attracted hundreds of visitors each Saturday morning, helped local vendors realize an economic boost and played a significant role in the revitalization efforts of Waterloo and the surrounding area.

“Although I don’t expect any recognition, it feels very nice that my peers recognize my commitment to the community. I love Seneca County and the people in it!”
– Melissa Nesbit


Rising Star Award
Presented to: Erica Spencer
Sponsored by: ITT Goulds Pumps

[Criteria: The Rising Star award recognizes a young professional (40 or under) that has made outstanding contributions to their profession or life’s work and devoted their time and effort in the greater Chamber community to improve the quality of life for others.]

Erica Spencer is a young professional with a passion for helping people feel better in both mind and body. Born in Hornell, NY, Erica is the oldest of 11 siblings. She graduated from Clyde Savannah High School in 2004. After graduation, she enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and completed basic training at Parris Island, SC. Her military career was cut short due to injuries sustained while training, but the experience proved to be instrumental to her future success.

With the help of the GI Bill, Erica enrolled at Corning Community College before earning a scholarship to LeMoyne College in Syracuse.
While pursuing a degree in psychology, Erica worked a full-time job with the GRACE House for chemical dependency in Cayuga County. The experience motivated her to pursue a career in healthcare that focused on integrative healing.

In 2016, she graduated from the Finger Lakes School of Acupuncture (housed at the New York Chiropractic College). Her professional career as an acupuncturist began at Ryan Chiropractic and, later, at Austin Physical Therapy. In 2018, Erica became the owner and operator of Natural Solutions Acupuncture and Botanicals. Her business, located in downtown Waterloo, provides a variety of health services like acupuncture, massage therapy and botanical therapy. She considers the community to be an extension of her family and is involved with several charitable causes — including the Waterloo Rotary.

“I have a lot of ambition, with big plans for the future. With so much suffering in this area, I would like to offer a place of solace for people to go.
I appreciate this award and consider it to be validation and recognition for all of my hard work and the art of acupuncture.”- Erica Spencer


Award winners gathered on the red carpet during the Chamber’s 2019 Annual Dinner at Club 86. Pictured left to right: Angela Bruno (FL Textiles), Assemblyman Brian Kolb, Erica Spencer (Rising Star), Allen Connely (Arc of Seneca Cayuga Executive Director), NY Senator Pam Helming, Steve Skordy (FL Textiles), Ken McConnell (Chamber Board Chair), Lisa Guernsey (FL Textiles), Melissa Nesbit (Citizen of the Year), Roderick Coe (Lifetime Achievement), Melody Ponzi (CFO Arc of Seneca Cayuga), Carol Skordy, Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, Mark Pitifer (Congressman Tom Reed’s Office), and Jeff Shipley (President/CEO Chamber of Commerce).