Two Black-owned businesses were presented with the New York State Senate’s Empire Award by state Sen. Jeremy Cooney (D-Rochester) on Thursday.
Devon “Bobo” Crittenden, owner of Bobo’s Chicken Shack, and Tony Jackson, president of Panther Graphics Inc., were recognized for their commitment to giving back to the community.
The awards, which recognize excellence in business throughout the state, were presented in conjunction with National Black Business Month.
Bobo’s Chicken Shack at 532 Joseph Ave. features soul food. When there was a chicken wing shortage during the COVID-19 pandemic, Crittenden did not raise prices despite a rise in supply costs. In June, he gave out free dinners from open until close and awarded $500 scholarships to two Rochester high school seniors.
“Bobo’s Chicken Shack embodies excellence in business,” Cooney said in a news release. “Devon ‘Bobo’ Crittenden consistently prioritizes the needs of the community, and is undeterred by obstacles. He undertook personal financial loss in order to maintain affordable prices through the pandemic’s national chicken shortages, and committed to a full day of fundraising for local high school students despite a broken stove.”
Panther Graphics, at 465 Central Ave., provides graphic design and printing services to organizations including Wegmans, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Cornell University.
At the height of the pandemic, Panther Graphics partnered with Canfield & Tack and Diversipak to support the city of Rochester’s efforts to mail protective masks and 2020 census information to nearly 96,000 residents.
The firm also partners with Edison Career and Technology High School, Jackson’s alma mater, to provide a print shop program, giving students hands-on training and work-force development.
“Black excellence is a mindset that goes beyond just having financial or social success,” Jackson said. “It’s about standing on the shoulders of our ancestors who have come before us and pouring our talents and resources into our communities to progress them forward.
“The partnership between Panther Graphics and Edison Tech is something I hold dear to my heart. When I look at those students, I am looking at myself. I was once in their shoes, and I understand the importance of having someone pouring into you and pushing you to be the best version of yourself.”
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