As ever, the luncheon was the centerpiece at the New York City Economic Development Day at Columbia University last Thursday. But this informative plateau of the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce’s fabled Harlem Week had the usual business and health conference components, featuring a lively discussion on the importance of tourism to the city’s economy.

Tony Rogers, one of the founders of Harlem Week, recalled the fifth annual Harlem Day in 1979 and the unveiling of the first Harlem map and guide that helped spur tourism in the community. “This historic map,” Rogers began, pulling the map from inside his jacket, “listed 87 places of interest in Greater Harlem, and it provided tour operators with the places to see.” Rogers is now president of the Harlem Tourism Board.

Rogers’ comments on the significance of tourism were echoed by Linda Walton of the Harlem Arts Alliance and Curtis Archer, president of Harlem Community Development Corporation. “And when you have more than 52 million visitors to New York City last year, it was good to see many of them spending some of their time and money uptown,”

Archer said.

A number of notable New Yorkers received awards at the Business Award Luncheon. Betty Park, owner of Manna’s Restaurants and celebrating the business’ 30th anniversary, received the outstanding business achievement award. The service award was presented to Fernando Ferrer, a former City Council member and Bronx borough president. Charles Warfield Jr., who for 12 years was a vice president at Inner City Broadcasting Corporation, earned the media and communications award. Ken Knuckles, president and CEO of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, was honored with the first annual Basil A. Paterson Award, presented to him by George Gresham, president of Local 1199 SEIU, and former Gov. David Paterson.

Other distinguished civic leaders at the event were former Mayor David Dinkins; Rep. Charles Rangel; Assemblyman Keith Wright; Elinor Tatum, publisher of the Amsterdam News; Hazel Dukes of the NAACP; Rev. Dennis Dillon; Jim Harding of the MTA; community activist Jackie Rowe–Adams; and trumpeter Joey Morant, who got the event off to a soaring start with his rendition of the Black national anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”