RI Black Business Association Announces 2017 Award Winners

Tuesday, August 01, 2017
GoLocalProv Business Team

Lisa Ranglin, RIBBA President PHOTO: twitter
The Rhode Island Black Business Association (RIBBA) announced the recipients of its 2017 Business Awards Program.

"I congratulate the award recipients. We received dozens of nominations this year. These individuals and companies, we considered the best in their league and are worthy of this recognition,” said Lisa Ranglin, President of the Rhode Island Black Business Association. 

The winners will be honored at RIBBA’s 6th annual Business Awards Gala which is set to take place on Friday, October 6 at 6 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Warwick.

The awards program is designed to honor achievements of leaders who have achieved success, and leaders who strive towards professional accomplishment, excels in their field and exemplary leadership, business growth, and service to their community.

The 2017 Business Award Recipients are:

George T. Downing Business Leadership Award

Jhonny Leyva, President of Heroica Construction, Inc.


The Allen Brothers Business Award

 J.C Electric, Inc., John Cruz, President


Isaac Rice Entrepreneurship Award

Carmen Vieira, owner of 10 Rocks Tapas Bar & Restaurant


Christiana Bannister Community Service Award

Dr. Wayne J. Montague, Sr., Director of Community Relations, WinnResidential


Member of the Year

Sally Moltimore

Corporate Award - will be announced at a later date. 

  • Big Bankers

    Kevin Tracy and Oliver Bennett— There are deals and there are BIG DEALS. In Rhode Island, with all of the changing players and banking relationships, one reality is pretty much the same. If you have a big deal that needs sophisticated financing, the community banks may not be able to handle it.

    Bank of America may have abandoned the Superman Building, but they are still in Rhode Island and still doing big deals. Kevin Tracy, the former Brown golfer and Oliver Bennett — long ago Fleet Bank trainees — are now the guys you bring in for a $50 million deal.  The more things change - the more they stay the same.

  • Lookout

    John Hazen White, Jr. — White has taken Taco to new levels as he has made a series of strategic acquisitions to bolster the Rhode Island manufacturing company into a global firm.

    He continues to be a leader in American manufacturing investing in worker retention and employee training.

    Behind the scenes, White is a combination of an adviser and moral compass to many in Rhode Island. Despite taking a lower profile than his Lookout RI days, White is still a force pushing for ethics reform. 

  • Ambassador

    Joe Paolino — Once the young Mayor who took over in the 1980s when Buddy Cianci was forced to resign (the first time), now the leading corporate voice in Providence if not Rhode Island.

    While others complain at lunches at the Hope Club and University Club about the plight of the Capital City, Paolino has rolled up his sleeves and taken on issues like panhandling and homelessness.

    With a real estate empire that includes much of downtown, some of the top properties in Newport and Hasbro’s campus in Pawtucket to name a few, Paolino has close ties to Governor Gina Raimondo and even closer ties to the Clintons - could a federal appointment be in the works in 2017?

  • Dominant

    Steve Kirby — No one dominates commercial real estate in Rhode Island like Kirby does on Aquidneck Island. His red “Kirby Commercial” signs are literally everywhere across the island and in Newport proper -- they are more frequent than street signs.

    Want to open a clothing store in Newport? Go see Steve Kirby. Looking to launch a startup tech firm? Call Kirby. Developed cool technology and want to start producing for the Navy? Email Kirby.

    Kirby maybe the most influential in business on Aquidniick Island. (PS He will tell you which bankers to talk to).

  • Labor Boss

    George Nee — President of the AFL-CIO, Nee is one of the most influential players in business in Rhode Island. 

    He is Vice Chair of the Convention Center Authority Board, on the Commerce Corp board, the most influential voice for labor at the State House, and involved one way or another in just about every negotiation on constructing public buildings or issuing a tax stabilization agreement in Providence.

    For the most part his public persona has been more muted recently, but that has not impacted his private influence. If it happens in Rhode Island, Nee has probably touched it.

  • Monopoly

    Sally Lapides — If Teddy Roosevelt were alive today and saw the number of Residential Properties’ real estate signs on the East Side he would call it a monopoly and want to break up the company. Lapides not only dominates one of the most affluent sections of Rhode Island, but she also delves into the arts, education and politics.

    When you sell the wealthiest and most influential their homes, you make a lot of friends.

    Lapides is a force in residential real estate and it will be interesting to see what she does next.

  • Transformative

    Helena Foulkes — Two of the biggest decisions CVS ever made were the brain children of Foulkes. The Extracare card and the removal of tobacco from its stores were both influenced by Foulkes.

    She has emerged as a national power in business and makes all the business lists for top women, but make no mistake - she is wildly influential in Rhode Island. 

    She is close to Raimondo and she may decide to jump into political waters in the future - or may decide if she can snag the CEO spot at CVS.

  • Visionary or Free Rider

    Buff Chace — One of downtown Providence's biggest real estate magnates is a lightning rod in the Capital City. Widely considered to be one of the prime catalysts of Downcity's resurgence, Chace's accumulation of properties on Westminster Street is straight out of a Monopoly playbook. 

    His recent acquisition of the ProJo building has further solidified his dominance, which has not been without intense scrutiny, given his ability to continually secure -- and extend -- tax stabilization agreements at a time when the city's dire financial straits are close to reaching a head. 

    Wealthy, influential, and active in the community, Chace has chaired  the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy and has been a member of the Executive Committee of the Providence Foundation, and is a director emeritus for GrowSmart RI and a trustee emeritus of Trinity Repertory Theatre.

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