TAMPA — The Ybor City Chamber of Commerce's highest award is being given to the J.C. Newman Cigar Co., a company with Tampa roots dating back to 1953.
The family business, which moved to Tampa from Cleveland, will receive the Adela and Cesar Gonzmart Award Sept. 21 at the chamber's 48th annual gala.
J.C. Newman, which contends it is America's oldest family-owned premium cigar maker, owns Ybor City's last operating cigar factory at 2701 N. 16th St. The business also has overseas operations in the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Honduras.
“The Newman Family is being recognized for their ongoing contribution to Ybor City and the American cigar industry,” Tom Keating, CEO of the chamber, says in a news release.
In 2004, J.C. Newman — run by brothers Eric and Robert Newman —partnered with the Carlos Fuente Family, also historic figures in the cigar industry, to create the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation, which now oversees a primary school, high school, health clinic and organic farming operation in one of the most impoverished regions of the Dominican Republic.
The Gonzmart award is named after Adela and Cesar Gonzmart, the third generation of the Gonzmart family, that built Ybor's Columbia restaurant.
The award recognizes an individual, family or corporation for unique achievements that promote the cultural preservation and commercial revitalization of the Ybor community.