Seven Valley leaders receive salutes for accomplishments

The Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber presented six awards to seven Mahoning Valley business leaders during its annual Salute to Business breakfast.

Farid Naffah, awarded the Non-Profit Professional of the Year, was the only Trumbull County winner for his work in opening a gastroenterology practice. He opened The Avamar Gastroenterology & Center, 9225 E. Market St., Warren in 1993.

Other awardees included Mitchell Joseph, who received the Business Professional of the Year; Jessica Borza, Business Advocate of the Year; Mike and Michael Senchak, winners of the Spirit of Entrepreneurship; Michael Rulli, Small Business Person of the Year; and Carlton Ingram, Salute to Labor Achievement.

Born in Beirut, Dr. Naffah came to the U.S. when he was 20 to study at Columbia University and then went on to graduate from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, according to his biography.

A Bazetta resident, Dr. Naffah created CADOBAZ — Culture, Arts and Dining of Bazetta — which is an entertainment pavilion. CADOBAZ has been the setting for the annual “An Evening Under the Stars,” an arts and entertainment fundraiser for the Avamar Foundation, which provides elderly applicants with financial assistance to cover their prescription costs.

A member of the Ohio Arts Council, Dr. Naffah assisted in the attainment of funding for the Powers Auditorium, Stambaugh Auditorium, The Butler Institute of American Art and Packard Music Hall.

He worked with the Regional Chamber in 2016 in hosting an event that focussed on business attraction and government advocacy, his biography states.

• Joseph in 2016 broke ground on a $20 million Chill Can technology filling and distribution center in Youngstown. The can chills a drink in less than a minute by turning a knob on its bottom. The new facility will be comprised of multiple buildings and employ more than 250.

• Borza has been the executive director of the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition since 2011. The coalition is an industry-led group focused on workforce shortages. It has attracted more than $17 million, which support efforts to attract individuals into manufacturing and create opportunities for hands-on apprenticeships.

• Mike S. and Michael R. Senchak own and operate First Light Home Care of the Valley in Austintown and in Florida, which provide home care services for elderly. Ohio’s operation opened in 2013, serving the tri-county area.

• Rulli is the director of operations at the 100-year old Rulli Brothers grocery stores. A member of the Leetonia School Board, he led the charge to remove a levy from the ballot.

• Ingram in 2011 became the business representative and part of the executive board for Local 66. He is the vice president of the Western Reserve Building Trades. A member of the regional chamber’s Grow Mahoning Valley Infrastructure Partnership, Ingram was instrumental in the group looking at state Route 5 improvments to accommodate for the proposed $4 billion east coast ballistic missle defense shield, which is being considered for Camp Ravenna and two other sites.