Downtown First Awards celebrate hard work in York City
A tailor who rebuilt his business after a devastating fire and an organization that improves the lives of youth through athletics were among those honored at this year's Downtown First Awards.
The 18th annual event was held Thursday, April 12, at Logos Academy, 250 W. King St.
This year, 48 businesses, nonprofit organizations and individuals were nominated across eight categories, according to Downtown Inc, which created the event.
Winners are selected by a committee composed of downtown York City stakeholders.
The ceremony: Silas Chamberlin, CEO of Downtown Inc, celebrated the progress that has been made over the last year, citing 45 new businesses that have opened in the city.
York City Mayor Michael Helfrich also announced that a contract is being finalized with Downtown Inc to improve the Market Street corridor.
Helfrich said that, while he supports endeavors to improve the downtown area, he wants businesses in the entire city to flourish.
"We're wonderful all over the place," he said.
The men were followed by the keynote speaker, York County native John Fetterman, who has been dubbed by The Guardian newspaper as America's "coolest mayor" and is now running in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor.
Fetterman, who is serving his fourth term as mayor of Braddock, Allegheny County, spoke about his success in stimulating the borough's economy and lowering its murder rate.
He said that he knows York City "like the back of his hand" and is impressed with the revitalization the city has experienced since he moved there as a child in 1975.
"I didn't know you have had such amazing things going on," he said to the audience. "It's wonderful to come back to York."
Willie Standley: Standley, owner of The New Hub Store, won the Outstanding Merchant award. His store had been the go-to place for clothing in York for years until a devastating fire brought an end to his business in 2017.
Standley didn't give up, however, and he successfully moved his business next door.
Standley chose not to attend the awards ceremony, instead staying at work to help a young couple find the clothes they needed for their upcoming prom.
"I'll graciously take it, but it's not about me," he said when asked about the award during a phone interview the next day.
"Your work is about what you do for others," he said, adding that he would have been just as happy if someone else had received the award.
However, he said he supports the spirit of the Downtown First Awards, as they provide a chance to recognize the contributions of people and individuals to the city.
Kate Harmon: Harmon, winner of the Outstanding Individual award, was a part-time employee for The Parliament Arts Organization who stepped into a leadership position and greatly contributed to the organization's success, according to Downtown Inc. Harmon also works with What the Food Trucks, Give Local York, Working Progress and other York organizations.
"I'm surprised," Harmon said regarding the award. "Everyone was saying that they thought I would win, but there were amazing people in my category."
Antwoine Dorm Sr.: Dorm, owner of Stick N Move Boxing, was thrilled to win the award for Outstanding Nonprofit on April 12, which was officially recognized as "Antwoine Dorm Jr. Day" in York. The day was designated to honor his son’s national success in boxing. He currently is ranked No.1 in his weight class nationally.
"It's a win-win. It’s huge to win this award on his day," Dorm Sr. said.
Stick N Move Boxing provides tutoring services and personal training to youth to keep them away from violence and drugs on the streets, according to Downtown Inc.
The full list of winners is as follows:
Outstanding Large Business: Rite-Aid. The national chain remodeled its West Market Street pharmacy last year and extended its hours on evenings, weekends and for special events.
Outstanding Small Business: Weary Arts Group. Under the leadership of Cal Weary, Weary Arts Group teaches art, music and theater to children while serving as a safe haven for them.
Outstanding New Business/Merchant: Revival Social Club. Jessica and Robert Ayala, already successful restaurant owners in Harrisburg, decided to open a club in York City. They received the award for contributing to the city's restaurant scene.
Outstanding Merchant: The New Hub Store.
Outstanding Nonprofit: Stick N Move Boxing.
Better York Appell Beautification Award: Iron Horse York/Yohn Property Management. Iron House York used attractive outdoor seating, cafe lighting and well-maintained planters to bring "bustle" and a "much-improved aesthetic" to Continental Square, according to Downtown Inc.
Outstanding Individual: Kate Harmon, The Parliament.
Outstanding Volunteer: J.J. Sheffer. Sheffer has volunteered in downtown York for two decades, providing support and expertise to a wide variety of events.