Meet CenterState CEO’s 2023 Businesses of the Year

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Five ceramic awards with small business names are displayed on a table.

The Business of the Year awards recognize outstanding work done by CenterState CEO member companies and organizations. These businesses have gone above and beyond in their work, distinguishing themselves as leaders in their respective fields.

CenterState CEO Chair David Schneckenberger and President Rob Simpson presented awards across four categories at the 2023 Annual Meeting held at the Oncenter. Me’Shae Brooks-Rolling, executive director of the Upstate Minority Economic Alliance, presented the award for Minority-owned Business of the Year.



More than 50 Employees

Mower is an advertising, marketing and public relations agency that became 100% employee-owned in 2022, which was the strongest financial year in the last eight years, with revenue increasing by more than 24%. It was named Midsize Agency of the Year by the Association of National Advertisers and listed among PRWeek’s Best Places to Work. It also received the Workplace Enlightenment Certification for industry’s highest standards of equity and inclusion.


Additional finalists: Air Innovations Inc. and King + King Architects


American Fashion Network

Fewer than 50 Employees

American Fashion Network designs, develops and manufactures uniforms and corporate apparel in the United States, with 18 years of experience. It uses innovative fabrics to enhance performance and ecofriendly fabrics and dying processes, and is committed to gender and size inclusivity in its products. AFN has benefited from explosive growth in the government contract sector, having been awarded nearly $60 million in military contracts over the next five years.


Additional finalists: Chimera Integrations and M3 Placement and Partnership




Symphoria is a musician-owned and operated orchestra offering diverse programming reflective of the CNY Community. In 2022, it implemented an artist in residence program that uses the English and Language Arts curriculum as a basis for short musical performances, delivered in third grade city of Syracuse classrooms to support literacy development. Children can see performances for free, and Symphoria accommodates the deaf or hearing impaired by providing American Sign Language translation. It has also formalized a diversity, equity and inclusion statement, augmenting a culture of DEI at all levels of the organization.


Additional finalists: Friends of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo and On Point for College


Oswego Health

Community Involvement

Oswego Health has served the community for more than 140 years. For the second year in a row, all 1,200+ employees celebrated World Kindness day, and pledged to make the world a better place by promoting good deeds and acts of kindness. This included surprising the Hannibal School District's 1,245 students with inspirational yard signs, stickers and KIND Bars. Oswego Health annually provides $18 million to care for the uninsured, underinsured and the indigent in our community.


Additional finalists: Digital Hyve and National Grid


Collins Barber and Beauty Shop

Minority-owned Business

Collins Barber & Beauty Shop has served the Syracuse community for 55 years. Passed down from one generation to the next, it prides itself on offering a variety of services including haircuts, facials, braiding and more. Word of mouth retention and rave social media reviews helped it persevere during the pandemic. With its move to its new location, being a positive influence on the community and offering a comfortable environment for patrons, it’s significantly expanded its business and increased customers.


Additional finalists: HP Industrial Supplies Co. and Melody’s

Photo caption: The five awards given to winners were designed and created by a local artist. 

Post Date

May 3rd 2023