Greater Miami Chamber awards recognize minority businesses

By Marilyn Luna….

Among the 2011 Top 100 Minority Business Awards recipients pictured are (l-r): Joy Wallace, A Joy Wallace Catering; Wilhemena Black, University of Miami; Lori Medici, Perry Ellis; Abe Ng, Sushi Maki; Magda Lopez, Lopez & Partners LLC; Jorge Plasencia, Republica; John E. Brown III and Miyako Haag Acelor, Pepsom Group, and Cristy Leon-Rivero and Steve Kaczynski, Navarro Discount Pharmacy.

The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce honored the winners of the Top 100 Minority Business Awards on Thursday, Mar. 24, at Jungle Island.

The awards luncheon highlights and celebrates South Florida’s minority business community and their steadfast spirit of entrepreneurship in spite of today’s sometimes turbulent marketplace. The nominees included businesses from a variety of industries, showcasing the region’s rich diversity.

Eight companies received awards in the following categories:

Business Corporate Champion (non-minority business) — University of Miami is recognized as a champion when it comes to Supplier Diversity. In the past two fiscal years, it’s been estimated that total minority expenditures exceeded $140 million. Moreover, UM’s total impact on Miami-Dade County is $4.5 billion and employs more than 12,500, many of them minorities.

Community Involvement (small company) — Joy Wallace Catering has been known as a leader in off-premises design and event production. Since its inception in 1988, the company has been contributing its time and resources to a variety of charities. Some of the most well known include producing Key to the Cure at Saks Fifth Avenue for nine consecutive years.

Community Involvement (large company) — Navarro Discount Pharmacy has become the only Hispanic pharmacy chain in the U.S. With its strong philanthropic arm, Navarro has participated in more than 160 community events throughout the past year. Focused on making people feel better, they have created Wellness Wednesdays, which offers free wellness screenings in stores, smoking cessation classes and vascular screenings.

Emerging Business of the Year — Pepsom Group was launched in 2007 as the first ever, national brand of Epsom salt blends, targeted for first aid and sports. The products are sold now by 23 retailers in more than 20,000 stores nationwide and major online retailers. Today, Pepsom Sports products are used by the NFL, NBA and NCAA player and sports enthusiasts everywhere.

On the Map – Miami and Beyond — Perry Ellis International, a leading designer, distributor and licensor of apparel was founded as Supreme International in 1967 by Cuban-Jewish immigrant George Feldenkreis. The company that started by importing guayaberas, now has a network of 12 U.S. offices and 10 worldwide; retail stores throughout Central and South America; the company’s Original Penguin brand represented in the U.K., South Africa, Germany, and South America, and 133 licensing agreements spanning 100 countries.

Outstanding CEO of the Year — Jorge Plasencia is chair and CEO of República, a growing integrated communications company. Plasencia brings with him a rich history of success and experience that includes working as vice president and operating manager of Univision Radio, as the first director of hispanic marketing for the Florida Marlins and as vice president of Estefan Enterprises.

Outstanding Minority Business of the Year (Small) — Lopez & Partners LLC is an accounting firm established by Valentin Lopez in 1990. With a diversified domestic and international clientele, Lopez & Partners LLC has become a strong accounting firm in Coral Gables. The company also has established a technology department to better serve the demand for growth solutions. Making a difference to clients and community, Lopez has instilled a strong sense of corporate philanthropy within his organization, donating food to community shelters and feeding programs and earning $10,000 for the United Way.

Outstanding Minority Business of the Year (Large) — Sushi Maki was founded in 2000 and quickly has become a leader in Japanese cuisine. With 16 restaurant or branded kiosk locations, it is South Florida’s only sushi restaurant where all seafood is sustainably sourced and free from any preservatives or artificial ingredients. They are very community minded hosting programs for organizations, and donating to great organizations that fight childhood obesity, breast cancer, heart disease and child abuse.

“The Greater Miami Chamber is pleased to be able to recognize our community’s leaders and by so doing hold them as role models for all of us,” said Maria C. Alonso, chair of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and senior vice president and Corporate Social Responsibility Market Manager for Bank of America. “These companies not only focus on their customer’s needs, but they follow their corporate missions with a passion and constantly strive toward innovation.”

For information about the Top 100 Minority Business Awards and applications for next year, contact Jennifer Sanchez at 305-577-5451 or

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