Nov. 13, 2014 09:32 PM

Keith Myers

Where some see problems, others sense opportunity, and thankfully Acadiana‘s business community is chock full of the latter. In fact, when it comes to business, our region is respected for a certain reasoned fearlessness, a drive to seek solutions and a willingness to take the risks necessary to create and market them. It‘s an inherent quality that melds Cajun ingenuity and oil patch derring-do that we here call a wildcatter mentality. In less colorful parts of the world, it is known simply as entrepreneurship.

ABiz has profiled three Entrepreneurs of the Year since 2009: digital audio pioneer Scott Eric Olivier, Schumacher Group founder and Executive Chairman Dr. Kip Schumacher, and Lemoine Company President/CEO Lenny Lemoine. This year the honor will be raised to a higher level with the launch of a new annual event called The Entrepreneur of the Year Symposium, thanks to the sponsorship of Regions Bank and Regions Insurance.

"This event will be unique among those we produce," says ABiz Co-Publisher Cherry Fisher May. "We‘ve designed a panel-style format that will create the type of audience interaction we hope will inspire the wildcatter in all of us to move our existing businesses forward or create new ones." Although a project in California will prevent Olivier from joining the panel this year, both Schumacher and Lemoine have committed. The panel will be moderated by Zach Barker, executive director of The Opportunity Machine.

Joining them will be 2014 honoree Keith Myers, founder, chairman and CEO of home health/hospice provider LHC Group. "Myers and his wife Ginger literally mapped out the plans for this business on a paper napkin on their kitchen table to help four elderly neighbors avoid premature admission to a nursing home in 1994," says May. "They took the company public in 2005 and now operate in 29 states. We received a heartfelt letter of nomination on behalf of the company‘s 10,000 employees from Benny Ross, a team member in the LHC Group home office." The Myers also own Coteau Grove Farms near their home in Sunset and have become respected breeders of thoroughbred horses. Watch for Myers‘ complete profile in the next issue of ABiz on Dec. 15.

The local offices of Regions Bank and Regions Insurance have joined forces to bring this new event to the ABiz community. "The Acadiana Market is known across the county for its entrepreneurial spirit. It has a significant impact in defining our culture, and we at Regions Bank have the distinct pleasure to partner with many of the entrepreneurs who call Acadiana home," says Regions Lafayette City President Shawn Hubbard. "These men and women live out the Regions Bank mission of Making Life Better‘ for our community and others across the state and nation where we operate. We‘re proud to help launch this event to honor the living entrepreneurial spirit and to stand behind the entrepreneurs who make Acadiana great."

Brother Marine of Regions Insurance and Shawn Hubbard of Regions Bank

Brother Marine is the CEO of Regions Insurance South Region. "The entrepreneurial spirit is what makes our country, our state and our local community thrive by creating jobs for others," Marine says. "It is these men and women who often risk everything they have to create a company and make their dreams and their visions a reality. We are very fortunate to live in an area where the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well, full of many great examples of the American Dream‘ in action, and we are pleased to sponsor this event to honor the best and most successful of these entrepreneurs."

The first annual ABiz Entrepreneur of the Year Symposium is slated for Thursday, Dec. 18, at The Picard Center at noon. A lunch catered by Joey‘s Specialty Foods will be served. Tickets are $35 per person or $400 for a reserved table for 10, and seating is limited. For tickets or more information, contact Robin Hebert Guidry by email at robinh@theind.com or by phone at (337) 769.8603. The Picard Center is located off Cajundome Boulevard behind LITE.