BELFAST — In a warehouse full of broadband equipment the Greater Allegany County Chamber of Commerce honored large and small business and recognized one of its own with annual awards.
Gretchen Hanchett, executive director of the GACC, noted Friday, “We usually have this ceremony at a nice restaurant, but things have changed with COVID-19, so this year Armstrong Telecommunications is hosting it at their facility.”
Armstrong, in the county for four years installing fiber-optic cable, is the GACCC Large Business of the Year.
Taking the podium to announce the winners, GACCC member Rod Bieler said, “In partnership with New York state, Armstrong has been working in many parts of Western New York to expand broadband internet access to previously underserved communities. By expanding access to high-speed, affordable and reliable internet, businesses throughout Allegany County are able to establish and grow.”
Armstrong’s Shawn Beqaj said the company is almost 70 years old and a family business that originated in Butler, Pa. and now has an office in Addison, Steuben County.
“We’ve gone into the heartland to hook up rural homes with broadband,” Beqaj said, adding that it is a $130 million project — and nearly complete in Allegany County.
Once finished in Allegany County, the project will continue in Cattauraugus County. However, once the Belfast warehouse is emptied of equipment, it will be turned into office space for the business.
Kirk Beaber, another company representative, told those gathered that the company has installed 2,400 miles of cable and has another 1,500 miles to install before it is finished in Allegany County. He added that there will be 21 broadband hubs throughout the area, with seven located within Allegany County.
State Sen. George Borrello, R-Chautauqua County, and Assemblyman Joe Giglio, R-Gowanda, along with Lee James, a district representative for U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, were on hand for the awards ceremony and they thanked Armstrong for the work its crews have done in the area.
The Chamber’s Small Business Award was given to Four Points, Inc., an insurance agency out of Rochester that has helped the Chamber offer low-cost insurance to its members businesses and employees.
Founder Cody Mangalsingh told those at the ceremony, “We’re an agency that is large enough to matter, but small enough to care.”
He thanked the Chamber for recognizing the business, which has various locations in the eastern United States.
Chamber board member Corinna McKnight received the President’s Award.