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Hawaiʻi Island Senator Awarded Top Honor by SBA

May 16, 2015, 4:47 PM HST · Updated May 16, 4:48 PM
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SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet at the White House with Sen. Russell Ruderman. Photo courtesy of Sen. Russell Ruderman.

SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet at the White House with Sen. Russell Ruderman. Photo courtesy of Sen. Russell Ruderman.

By Maui Now Staff

Hawaiʻi State Sen. Russell Ruderman recently returned from Washington, D.C., where he was honored by the US Small Business Association as Business Person of the Year by the Hawaiʻi Region of the Small Business Association.

“I’m truly humbled by this honor,” said Sen. Ruderman (District 2, Puna, Kau, Hawaiʻi Island). “I feel lucky to be able to combine my passion to support local people and local products with my love for business and entrepreneurship.”

The award was given to Sen. Ruderman as president and founder of Island Naturals, a group of natural and organic food stores on Hawaiʻi Island that were established in 1997. Island Naturals now employs 150 people at three locations in Kona, Hilo and Pahoa.

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Ruderman’s nominators for the Business Person of the Year award described him as someone “willing to listen to people with different worldviews,” and “very humble and unassuming.”

“When we had our orientation for new employees, he said he always wanted to work at a place where you can have fun,” said Sarah Naleimaile, who works in the Hilo store. “And that’s the kind of place it is. I’m actually excited to come to work every day.”

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