Chamber of Commerce Honors Local Business and Real Estate Stars at Annual Membership Dinner
Forgive Ru Weerakoon for taking the opportunity to slip in a quick pitch last week at the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce annual membership dinner.
“I’m a phone call away for any company that wants to expand or relocate,” she told attendees gathered at the DoubleTree.
Of course, that’s the kind of always-on attitude that got Weerakoon the invite in the first place. The mayor’s senior policy analyst on land use and economic deveopment, she was part of this year’s crop of the chamber’s business awards, taking home the Business Advocate of the Year.
“If you are a developer or a business in San Jose looking to build or expand, you know Ru,” said Chamber CEO Matt Mahood.
It’s true. When rumors were swirling in early 2015 that she was only going to stay on a few months in the new Sam Liccardo administration, developers freaked out. But on Thursday, a visibly amped Weerakoon told me after the event that there’s just too much momentum in the city to leave now.
Joked Weerakoon after the introduction: “I’d much rather be at the General Plan Task Force meeting because that’s where I thrive.”
Real estate folks were well represented at this year’s awards. Claudia Folzman, COO and co-founder of Iron Construction, was honored as Businesswoman of the Year.
She had the crowd laughing with a self-deprecating story about how she got into the business. Unsure about what to do after college, someone recommended becoming an engineer. “I said, do I look like I know how to drive a train?!” she said.
Fast forward, and Iron is now a major general contractor working for some of the biggest Silicon Valley players. And the company is celebrating a big deal — namely, the sale of its own Sunnyvale headquarters — last month for $11.5 million. “We got the godfather offer for our building after three years, and we’re coming back to San Jose,” she said.
She was followed by Mark Tersini, half of the leadership of Cupertino-based developer KT Urban, known for its high-rise projects in downtown San Jose. He took home Businessman of the Year.
“I just happen to be the face, and hit a few council meetings,” said Tersini, who runs the company with his brother, Ken. “I still have a lot of horsepower left, and so does my brother.”