Real estate investor Ben Gamache is the Small Business Person of the year, as named by the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce.

BEDFORD- Real Estate investor, community volunteer and dedicated family man Ben Gamache was named Small Business Person of the Year yesterday by the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce.

   "He has dedicated himself to our city, his home, and has created a better community for both our residents and our business community," chamber President Robin Comstock said in presenting the award at the luncheon at the Event Center at C.R. Sparks.

   Bill Phillips, district director for the U.S. small business administration in Concord, also presented a certificate to Gamache. About 250 attended.

   "This honor is more than I ever dreamed of," Gamache said in accepting the award. "you have many fine people in this great city this achievement could have been bestowed upon"
   Gamache, 46 is owner and CEO of Gamache Enterprises, a real estate development firm he founded with his wife, Sandy.

   Gamache thanked the chamber, his parents, Bert and Connie, his wife and their four children, Jordan, Justin, Lauren, and Carolyn. "A person is not an island and one cannot accomplish any of his dreams without family that supports and loves him," Gamache said.

   Hailed as a "community champion," Gamache has financially supported Junior Achievement, a nonprofit mentoring program for young adults in the community, Big Brothers and Big Sisters program in Manchester, and Easter Seals New Hampshire.

   Gamache was nominated by Easter Seals, where he has served as a volunteer and member of the board of directors.

   "He is a voice and an advocate for the silent and the invisible," Comstock said. "He and his wife have given Easter Seals over 106,000, earning them the Edgar Allen foundation award."
Laura Thomas, spokesman for Easter Seals, said "Ben has always been such a great supporter of Easter Seals. Whenever we need help, Ben is there, whenever there is an event, Ben is there . . .he'll do the most menial of task."

   "He goes a long way in being a real true supporter and volunteer board member for us, so it was just clear that when the opportunity came up, we wanted to really do something about it, and so we nominated Ben," Thomas said.

   Easter Seals provides services for adults and children with disabilities. "Those services go from the day these kids are born to the very end of their life," Thomas said. 
   Luncheon guest speaker was Kerry Skeen, CEO of Independence Air, which began serving the Manchester Airport Tuesday.

Independence will serve 35 cities by the end of August, he said.

St. Mary's Bank sponsored the event. 

Denis Paiste of the Union Leader