NEWBURGH – South Street Café Blacc Vanilla in Newburgh was awarded the New York State Senate Empire Business Award last Monday.
The award was created in 2018 and has since honored businesses that have shown excellence in their industry, created significant partnerships with other local businesses, have contributed greatly to their communities, or have engaged in philanthropic efforts.
Blacc Vanilla may not be an industry leader in the café business, but they have consistently been very active within the city community: hosting community and political events, providing relief for folks during disasters and creating business, as well as community partnership.
Senator James Skoufis (D, Woodbury) said with their track record of successful community involvement, Blacc Vanilla was an obvious choice for the Empire Award and what it represents.
“It’s supposed to be an indication that this is more than just a small business, that this business is very involved in the community somehow and certainly with Blacc Vanilla, they’ve done so much for the City of Newburgh through their foundation, through their efforts with Illuminate and so many other good causes that are happening these days in the City of Newburgh,” said Skoufis.
Blacc Vanilla owner Jarrod Lang said he was delighted to win the award but is more thrilled to continue the efforts the award recognizes.
“I’m more excited for the city and being part of the revitalization efforts and building the community up, working with all the youth: the young kids and young adults, creating positive pathways for them and being an example for them out here in the community,” said Lang.
One of those efforts Blacc Vanilla is currently focused on is their Orange County Career Inspiration Program (OCCIP). Lang said he was inspired by the Army Career and Alumni Program (ACAP) through the U.S. Army following his service. Like the military program, Lang’s provides young individuals with career advice, preparation and helps them get their foot in the door for interviews with various trades.
Over the past weekend, Lang facilitated interviews for four young people with a local electrical union.
The program is still young and grassroots, according to Lang, but he encourages young people looking for career help to reach out to him. They are focusing on people ages 16-24, but added they wouldn’t turn anyone away looking for some help finding career opportunities.