SELINSGROVE — The two small and big businesses honored on Monday by the Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce both have a role in developing the future of the Valley's workforce.

At the 98th Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony at Susquehanna University, SUN Area Technical Institute in New Berlin won the 2018 Business of the Year and Bucknell University's Small Business Development Center won the 2018 Small Business of the Year. Chamber President/CEO Bob Garrett said many nominations came through, but it was coincidental that the two entities with similar goals won in the same year.

"It was hands down, not close, that's who everybody wanted to recognize this year with the awards," Garrett said. "These are the folks we support everybody, they support us every day, and they will result in many, many more large businesses of the year, and small businesses of the year."

SUN provides a "world-class technical education in 18 high-demand careers to both high school and adult learners," said presenter Kendra Aucker, the president and CEO of Evangelical Community Hospital. "

Home to some of the most state of the art equipment and modern programming available, SUN offers programming in computer networking technology, electronics, health professions, advertising art and design, dental health technology, cosmetology, food service, precision machining, welding, electrical system technology, HVAC, criminal justice, masonry, carpentry, wood products manufacturing, automotive technology, diesel truck technology and collision repair. Industry certification courses, such as Certified Nursing Assistants and Commercial Driver Licenses, are opportunities available to adult learners.

"We know with the large number of people retiring, it's important we start with the young and grow them up, and grow our businesses in the area, and essentially grow our talent," said SUN director Jennifer Hain. "We're pretty excited. Enrollment is increasing this year, the highest it's been since 1988."

With two locations in Lewisburg, Bucknell SBCD is often the jump starter for small businesses with "little more than a dream," said Aucker.

Providing no-cost confidential consulting to entrepreneurs and small business owners in Snyder, Union, Northumberland, Montour, Juniata and Perry counties, the center provides services for those seeking to develop prototypes, launch innovative new products, and more. It is home to a host of training opportunities as well as a business incubator that is responsible for launching startups.

"The legacy of our small business of the years is that they will produce even more small businesses of the year," said Aucker.

Developing the talent is important, said SCDC Director Steven Stumbris.

The Chamber recognizing the center shows the "importance of small businesses to our region and the economy of the nation," he said. "By far, over 95 percent of jobs and firms in the country are small businesses. We know that this makes the economy thrive. The chamber recognizing the SBCD, I join with them in celebrating with them small businesses in the region."

Aucker was also the recipient of the ATHENA Award. Joanne Troutman, the president/CEO of the Greater Susquehanna Valley United Way was the recipient of the Karen L. Hackman Star of Excellence Award. Martha Barrick, Coldwell Banker Penn One Real Estate broker/owner, was the recipient of the Dan Foss Heritage Award. Kendy Alvarez, president of the Black Alumni Association at Bucknell and a board member of Bucknell's Greater Susquehanna Valley Alumni Club, was the recipient of the Young Professional of the Year award.