Sept. 15, 2015 01:25 PM
Lenny Lemoine, left, Keith Myers, Dr. Kip Schumacher and moderator Zachary Barker at the 2014 inaugural ABiz Entrepreneur of the Year Symposium
Photo by Robin May

ABiz has profiled four Entrepreneurs of the Year since 2009. Three of them — Schumacher Group founder and Executive Chairman Dr. Kip Schumacher, Lemoine Company President/CEO Lenny Lemoine and Keith Myers, Chairman/CEO of The LHC Group — convened for the first-ever ABiz Entrepreneur of the Year Symposium last December. Plans are now being laid for this year’s event.

Nominations for 2015 may be submitted via email to ABiz Editorial Director Leslie Turk at lesliet@theind.com. Deadline is Tuesday, Oct. 6. We welcome nominations from readers and leaders in the business community throughout the One Acadiana region (Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary and Vermilion parishes). Although there is no specific grading system, our editors and staff assess nominees for innovation, job creation and potential for job creation, vision, leadership, expansion, financial performance, community involvement and ethics in business.

Last year’s event was nothing short of electrifying. Moderator Zachary Barker of The Opportunity Machine did a magnificent job leading the conversation among some of the true titans of local industry. Their candor in sharing the stories of their successes and challenges proved insightful and inspirational. We realized that day that it would be valuable to create a place in the conversation for someone who lives their entrepreneurship at a level other than the top tier of Acadiana’s largest companies. And as we discussed the 2015 event, we realized that our community had just lost someone who exemplified the spirit of what we hope to bring to the panel.

Beginning this year, The Jillian Johnson Award for Entrepreneurship in The Creative Economy will be given to someone who is a driving force in that realm, and we've adopted the definition of "creatives" as coined by best-selling author and economic theorist Richard Florida. Some are classic knowledge-based workers in health care, business, finance, law or education. Others are part of what Florida calls "The Super-Creative Core," comprising artists, designers, media workers, scientists, engineers or computer programmers. Taken from her family and community in the tragic Grand Theatre shooting, Jillian leaves a legacy as a successful business owner, graphic artist, musician, producer and creative force in our community — all of which certainly embodies much of the spectrum as Florida defines it. We hope to perpetuate that legacy in some small way.

This year we’re also collaborating with INNOV8 Acadiana by producing the symposium as part of its fall Summit Nov. 12-14. That series will include a tech fair, the re-launch of Cajun Code Fest and a series of workshops on innovation, and will culminate with a pitch event for the entire Delta Regional Authority, which includes portions of Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. The 2015 INNOV8 Acadiana Award winners along with the LAGCOE Energy Innovator of the Year will be introduced at the ABiz Symposium and be featured speakers that Saturday, sharing their stories of growth and future plans. More information soon from INNOV8 and ABiz.

Mark your calendars for the 2015 Entrepreneur of the Year Symposium at noon on Thursday, Nov. 12, at the Cajundome Convention Center. And send in your nominations for both of these awards. We look forward to sharing their stories with you.

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