They’re your stories. You live it, we write about it

Each year at Smart Business, we publish the stories of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year™ finalists and winners. These are stories of people who are driven to succeed, and often do so after overcoming great personal hardship.

Central to each story, as varied as they are, is a person who finds a better way — to meet customer needs, improve lives, make a better product or offer a better service.


Investing for success

We can see the same sentiment expressed by this month’s columnists. For example, Tim Stover, president and CEO of Akron General Health System, talks about a $2 million investment the hospital made in the area’s first hybrid operating room. The investment was made to help Akron General better address its community’s health needs. As Stover puts it: “Despite the financial challenges accompanying technological innovation, our pledge is to continue to find ways to stay current with evolving high technology to ensure superb patient care and enhanced safety as part of our mission and commitment to the community.”

Similarly, the city of Akron, led by Mayor Don Plusquellic, another of this month’s columnists, is working to generate investments in the region’s health care industry. He says that since 2003, more than $1.2 billion has been invested in Northeast Ohio health care companies. Plusquellic says, “Due in no small part to the research and clinical strengths, and a broad existing biomedical industry, Northeast Ohio has become a major center of health care innovation and commercialization.

“Over the past five years, the region has seen significant increases in all measures of health care innovation: investment dollars, grant funding, number of startups, licensing revenues and technology deals.”

On the topic of health care, we’re previewing this year’s Healthcare Reform Seminar, which will be held at the Firestone Country Club on July 16. We asked the three panelists a series of questions. Some of their responses are featured in this issue, the rest are posted online at The panelists will be on hand at Firestone to discuss upcoming regulation rollouts and what they mean for company benefit plans.


Filing unmet needs

Another theme from this year’s EY entrepreneurs is identifying holes in the market or gaps in service. David Osage, of The Equity Engineering Group Inc., launched a business to fulfill the unmet need to maintain aging oil infrastructure and turned it into a successful business. In the same vein, Luis Proenza, president emeritus of The University of Akron, tells us about Northeast Ohio’s unrecognized industry: higher education. In his column this month, he outlines the need to see higher education as a public good, saying, “If our private and public sectors collaborated to raise Northeast Ohio’s college attainment rate toward 50 percent, economic benefits would accrue immediately and continue to accelerate as the region attracts high-tech talent, industries and companies.”

We’re always looking to tell the stories of area businesspeople at Smart Business — how they’ve overcome obstacles to generate success for themselves and those who work for them. I hope you enjoy reading about them as much as we enjoy writing about them.