UNION CITY -- Some great comeback stories can be told once the local economy completely rebounds, and Union City officials know which local business heroes should be featured.

Many of those entrepreneurs will be feted Thursday at the 3rd annual Union City Business Appreciation Awards ceremony.

"We're appreciative of all of our businesses," said Christine Friday, Union City's economic development manager. "But most importantly, we appreciate those that give back and help Union City's profile."

The public event, offering free admission and lunch, is scheduled from noon to 2 p.m. at the William M. Cann Memorial Civic Center.

The ceremony, copresented by the city and the Union City Chamber of Commerce, will honor eight businesses in six categories.

The Ambassador Award will go to Abaxis, which manufactures and supplies blood analyzers for human and veterinarian patient care. In 2007, Forbes magazine listed Abaxis as the nation's 11th best small company and named CEO Clint Severson its Entrepreneur of the Year.

While those honors rewarded Abaxis for doing well, it is receiving the Ambassador Award for doing good for Union City, Friday said.

The Environmental Award is being given to Finelite, a maker of energy-efficient lighting systems for classrooms and offices. The manufacturer employs 300 people and is focused on being a green company, Friday said. "Everything they do is energy-efficient," she said.


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The Innovation Award winner is Synterys, a drug discovery company. This award goes to any tech-based company that works toward bettering society and Synterys -- which works shoulder-to-shoulder with groundbreaking biotech and pharmaceutical firms -- fits the bill, city officials said.

The New Business Award recipient will be Gexpro, an electrical products supplier that has added 50 new jobs and generated "a ton of sales tax revenue," Friday said.

The Small Business Award is going to ChiroSports USA, a team of health care professionals who aid patients with chiropractic and physical therapy treatment. The medical practice has added new jobs and grown steadily, Friday said.

Lastly, the Community Steward Award will have three recipients:

  • Masonic Homes of California, a hilltop complex offering assisted-living services to 300 senior residents on 267 acres overlooking the Bay Area;

  • Walmart, an Arkansas-based chain with a store near the Hayward-Union City border, and;

  • Southern Wine and Spirits, the nation's largest distributor of wine and spirits. It is based in Florida but has operations in 33 locations, including Union City.

    "Masonic Homes has been doing a lot of work with the New Haven Schools Foundation," Friday said. "Each of the three has given so much money and time to the community."

    Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.

    If You go
    What: Union City Business Appreciation Awards
    When: Noon to 2 p.m.
    Where: William M. Cann Memorial Civic Center, 34009 Alvarado-Niles Road, Union City
    Admission: Free
    Info: www.ci.union-city.ca.us