Hobart and William Smith Colleges have been named 2011 Business of the Year by the Geneva Area Chamber of Commerce. This is the highest honor a business can receive locally. The award will be presented at the Chamber Annual Dinner on Friday, Jan. 27, 2012.
In announcing the designation, Chair of the Geneva Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors Kelly Mittiga said: “Hobart and William Smith Colleges are a fundamental part of the culture and vibrancy of Geneva. Their diverse contributions are a large part of what makes Geneva such a rich place in which to live and work.”
“We are honored and deeply grateful to the Chamber of Commerce for this significant award recognizing the Colleges’ role and presence in the community,” said President Mark D. Gearan. “Geneva has been vital to our success in bringing students from around the world to study here. Our engagement has only deepened during our history. As we reflect back on nearly 200 years of combined history, it’s clear that the past and the future of HWS and of Geneva are intrinsically linked. We are proud of the strong, collaborative partnerships that define this relationship and proud to call Geneva home.”
The Colleges dedication to Geneva has been solidified through the Geneva Partnership, an initiative to forge the strongest possible ties with the community and enhance life for all who work, study and live here. Through this partnership, the Colleges work with community members to identify challenges and brainstorm specific ways that faculty, students and staff can work with local residents to overcome obstacles.
“These partnerships allow community members to explore new ideas while giving our students the kind of rich, real-world experiences that set them apart when looking for employment after graduation,” says Katie Flowers, director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning.
Last year, HWS students, faculty and staff provided more than 190,000 hours of community service in the Geneva area and raised about $112,000 to support local non-profit agencies. In January, The Boys and Girls Club honored HWS as the “Community Partner of the Year.”
“Hobart and William Smith Colleges are in the unique position of benefiting Geneva both as an economic contributor and also as the clear leader in service for our region,” said Mary Walsh Boatfield, CEO of Happiness House and second vice chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Geneva Area Chamber of Commerce. “No other organization in our community makes a similar contribution in terms of human hours of service provided to all of our not-for-profit agencies. The Colleges are clearly a force in helping us serve those in need and deserve to be recognized. We are fortunate to live and work in the same community.”
Recently, Professor of Economics and Interim Provost Patrick McGuire and his students conducted an economic impact report that looked at how the Colleges contribute to the region. Among factors they studied were direct and indirect job growths. McGuire estimates that the indirect and induced spending from the Colleges, their students and employees, supports between 1,110 and 1,805 jobs locally.
“Our report found that Hobart and William Smith Colleges have a positive employment and spending impact on the local economy,” said McGuire. “We estimated the total spending impact of the Colleges on the Geneva area to be approximately $130 million annually.”
Past recipients of the Business of the Year include Finger Lakes Health, Zotos and, most recently, Super Casuals.