We live in amazing times and sit at the center of the greatest economy the world has ever known. And this great economy, this massive engine of growth and wealth, is powered by the very men and women we honor in this issue — by entrepreneurs, visionaries who create ideas that become businesses, businesses that become industries, and industries that become the future. Every great company — every Apple, every Microsoft, every Coca-Cola, started in someone’s garage, basement or backyard.
Growing companies are critically important to the world’s economy. They create jobs, support their communities, and provide products and services that can go from novelties to necessities overnight. How long could you live without your cell phone? Or the Internet?
Everywhere you look, everything that makes life better or longer or more productive is the result of the hard work and vision of an entrepreneur. It’s hard to imagine where we would be today without the entrepreneurs who create growth companies. They are the visionaries and the risk-takers who believe in their dreams and refuse to be denied. Rather than follow in the footsteps of others, entrepreneurs choose instead to lead, to take the road less traveled.
For the past 23 years, we have proudly recognized outstanding business leaders in Florida. This year’s participants have succeeded through extremely turbulent economic times and endured personal sacrifice. They have risen to tackle adversity and change the world as we know it. They’re driven by accomplishment.
That’s why we started the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year awards, and why we host the Strategic Growth Forum each year in Palm Springs. Since the first awards were presented in 1986, more than 12,000 outstanding businessmen and businesswomen have been honored with this distinction.
Join me in congratulating these men and women. We, along with our sponsors and patrons, continue to be inspired and encouraged by the vision, courage and achievements of our nominees and winners. The following pages highlight those individuals who pursued this coveted distinction. Ernst & Young is proud to recognize and honor the accomplishments of these people. We’re proud to be part of the history that is being made all around us.
On behalf of everyone at Ernst & Young, congratulations to all of the 2009 Entrepreneur Of The Year Florida nominees, finalists and award recipients!
Mike Brennan is the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year program leader in Florida and a partner at Ernst & Young LLP. Reach him at (813) 225-4898.