Record-Breaking Crowd Honors Chilean- American Business Pioneers

A record-breaking capacity-crowd of over 320 international business people, the maritime community, consular corps and well wishers packed the ballroom of Philadelphia’s Union League, saluting this year’s honorees at the Chilean and American Chamber of Commerce- 15th Annual Friend of Chile Award ceremonies.

In his opening remarks, Chamber president Robert Palaima said Chilean & American economic developments continue to be one of the world’s most positive international news stories.

“As the needs of Chile’s technical, mining and agri-businesses continue to grow,” he said, “so do American businesses, taking part in this extraordinary 21st century success story.”

Pennsylvania State Senator Mike Stack took the occasion to commend the Chamber’s ingenuity and diplomatic
skills. In his remarks, he emphasized the vital role the Ports of the Delaware River play in Chilean and American economic success. Senator Stack also delivered good news about improving the Ports’ ability to attract even more world-wide business, detailing the operation to deepen the port’s channels by five feet.

Introducing the Chilean Ambassador to the United States, Bob Palaima noted His Excellency, Felipe Bulnes has already spent a lot of time in the States while at Harvard Law School. Ambassador Bulnes had high praise for the Chamber’s international work, noting it’s one of the most successful Chambers in the U-S and longstanding relationships make that a reality”

During last year’s Friend of Chile Award ceremony, Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Corbett said he’d like to go to Chile. And just days before this event, came the announcement that he is booking the trade mission for mid-April of 2013.

Ambassador Bulnes, made special note of Governor Corbett’s newly announced plans to visit Chile, saying he was extremely pleased and looking forward to the visit of the Pennsylvania delegation.

The Ambassador was highly impressed with the work of the two award recipients David Schiro, of Jac. Vandenberg Incorporated and Don Caldwell of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. In his thanks, he expressed the appreciation of his entire nation for their innovative and pioneering efforts.

Visionary business leader,  Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Cross Atlantic Capital Partners, Don Caldwell and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Art’s Bacchanal! Wine Committee were given the Chamber’s Pablo Neruda Award. Their annual Bacchanal! and Wine Auction have evolved into a premiere philanthropic event, promoting cross-cultural understanding through a shared appreciation of Chilean wine and viticulture.

In his introduction, Robert Palaima recounted the efforts made by then-Academy Board Chairman Don Caldwell, describing a winning partnership where tradition, innovation and philanthropy work together securing fine art and artists, for centuries to come. PAFA’s one-day wine auction has now evolved into a weekend of highly successful events which are some of the most sought-after tickets in town, generating profound societal benefits, preserving the nation’s first art museum, oldest teaching academy and creating scholarships for future artists.

The Chamber’s prestigious Friend of Chile Award was presented to pioneering Chilean fruit importer David

As the president of the venerable import firm, Jac. Vandenberg Incorporated, David Schiro has helped make history and been a witness to history, in his 38 years with the company. He has seen the Republic of Chile go through all manner of profound societal changes, from earthquakes to transforming desert into lush farmland, then developing world-class produce and distribution strategies. Schiro has played a key role in helping expand the international market for Chilean fruit and watched its phenomenal trajectory into a worldwide leader and economic powerhouse. Chile is No. 14 in the world for food exports and rocketing toward the ‘Top Ten.’ Those numbers also mean well over 100,000 jobs from the farms of Chile to the docks of the Delaware River.

Leo Holt, of Holt Logistics, presented the Friend of Chile award to David Schiro, recounting examples of Schiro’s strength and rare ability to remain and create calm, even in the most hectic and heated circumstances.

Everyone there reveled in Chile’s modern-day, feel-good story of the ‘Little Engine that Could.’

Ricardo Maldonado, Executive Director of the Chilean & American Chamber said,“These are the kinds of alliances and success that insure a better future for everyone. With the academy of fine arts and Chile, we have a wonderful example demonstrating that when the Arts and Business get together – the entire society is the really big winner. With David Schiro and Jac. Vandenberg, we see the mutual appreciation and benefits of a deep and enduring friendship. Chile and its North American partners are lighting the way.”

In a world too-often focused on turmoil, the Chilean & American story of international cooperation and expanding prosperity is a genuine inspiration.

In 2013, the Chilean & American Chamber of Commerce celebrates 25 Years of contributing to the progress and economic strength of the Philadelphia Region.

Click here to see pictures from the 2012 Friend of Chile Awards

Leave a Reply