The Grand Island Chamber of Commerce will honor six individuals, organizations and businesses as the recipients of the Citizen of the Year Awards.
The Citizen of the Year Awards are presented annually to businesses and individuals whose contributions have made Grand Island a better place to live, work and play.
Eric Fiebelkorn, president of the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce, said each recipient was nominated by someone from the Grand Island community. All nominations were reviewed by the Citizen of the Year committee and chosen for each particular category.
The recipients are:
•Business: Mallwitz Island Lanes
•Business Development: Corey McGowan
•Community Leadership: Fahim Mojawalla
•Educator: Maggie Kennedy
•Environmental Steward: LDC Construction
•Lifetime Service: Joanne Kud
•Organization: Islettes Elite
The 50th annual Citizen of the Year Awards ceremony and dinner will be held Thursday, April 28, at the Byblos Niagara Resort & Spa.
Community Leadership: Fahim Mojawalla
Fahim Mojawalla was born in Mumbai, India, and moved with his family to New York City when he was 3 years old. He went to school on Long Island and graduated from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 2002 with an honors degree in economics and a minor in business management. Mojawalla moved to Grand Island in 2005 with his mother, wife and five children. Currently, he is the effervescent owner of Island Ship Center, a successful, popular, experienced-based retail shipping outlet (popularly known as The Spa of Shipping), business center, and a unique gift store, located next to Baked Cupcakery on Whitehaven Road. Island Ship Center is celebrating 10 years in business on the Island on Tuesday, April 5, at 11 a.m.
Along with his wife Seema, he is very involved in the Association of Mail & Business Centers and is honored to volunteer on the AMBC board of directors as social media director. He is also the vice president of the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce, helping connect other local businesses with social media trends.
He loves being able to live and work on Grand Island so that he can spend a lot of time with his kids during after-school activities. He shares a lot of motivational quotes through his Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages and uses plenty of hashtags to keep track of online activity, especially #FahimFix, #SpaOfShipping, and #ExudeExcellence.
In 2015, Mojawalla was recognized for his involvement with the community by being awarded the Excellence in Education award. Fahim's new video, Get SMart with Fahim, about learning the "Art of Social Media," launches on YouTube on April 2.
Mojawalla is honored and touched to be receiving the Citizen of the Year Award for Community Leadership and wishes to thank everyone on the Island for this auspicious award.
Business Development: Corey McGowan
Born on St. Patrick's Day 1989 to Patricia and John, Corey McGowan has lived his entire life on Grand Island. A graduate of Huth Road Elementary School, Veronica E. Connor Middle School, Grand Island High School and Buffalo State College, he left a career in business to follow his passion as a promoter and entrepreneur through Corey McGowan Productions.
One can easily say McGowan was a born promoter who began leading the charge for community projects when he was 11 years old. Back then, he was spearheading neighborhood petitions to have bridges built over tiny creeks that prevented him from being able to ride his bicycle to Veterans Park. During his high school and college years, he organized controlled hotel parties to provide musical entertainment for his friends while making a few bucks for school.
From 2006-08, McGowan served as Grand Island Youth Ambassador to the Chamber of Commerce where he would implement a high school Battle of the Bands competition into the popular annual KidBiz event at the Town Commons.
As a business major at Buffalo State, McGowan worked at the Keller Insurance Group in Niagara Falls, where company owners and Grand Island residents Tony Brindisi and Bob Fahning gave him hands-on experience in business and the ability to learn from two well-respected men in their field.
Upon graduating from college in 2012, he began at Citigroup as a pricing analyst, feeding traders daily stock price variances, working with individuals in New York City, London, Belfast and Singapore. After 18 months, he returned to the Island for a position as the events director for Byblos Niagara Resort & Spa on East River Road.
While working for these companies, the promoter remained active in his hometown by starting the Grand Island mural program in the summer of 2012. The project was completed that fall through funds from the first Taste of Grand Island. Today, it stands strong with its historical montage of Grand Island facing Baseline Road, as does the Taste of Grand Island, which will celebrate its fifth anniversary as a Corey McGowan Productions event on Sept. 24.
On weekend nights during the summer, one will find McGowan at the Town Commons in the heart of Grand Island hosting a Friday night concert and a free outdoor family movie on Saturday evening. Beginning this year, Corey McGowan Productions will fund an annual business scholarship for a graduating Grand Island High School senior pursuing a four-year business degree.
This passion for his hometown was what prompted McGowan to contact the national office of the Gus Macker 3-on-3 Outdoor Basketball Tournament last year when he heard Buffalo and Darien Lake would not hold the tournament and it would cease locally after a 25-year run. McGowan's enthusiasm in bringing this street festival, sports tournament for adults and youth of both sexes to Grand Island turned into a greatly successful 2015 tournament for all of Western New York to enjoy on Grand Island.
This year, McGowan will again hold the tournament on Grand Island Boulevard and use the Town Commons for a festival June 4-5. This summer, you will also find McGowan continuing the tradition of the Taste of Grand Island, monthly Friday evening concerts and Saturday night outdoor films at the town commons. A full listing of events produced by Corey McGowan Productions can be found at www.coreymcgowan.com.