Dec. 2, 2016 03:32 PM

Longtime banker and businessman, Maraist is ABiz’s 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year; Marks will be honored with the Jillian Johnson Award for Entrepreneurship in the Creative Economy.

Mike Maraist, ABiz's 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year
Photo by Robin May

There’s a saying among those who have done business deals with Mike Maraist that everyone walks away a winner. It’s part of what has driven the success of the mild-mannered businessman with authentic southern charm, and likely traces back to his banking roots, which are still bearing fruit five decades after he first got his start at First National Bank while a sophomore at UL Lafayette.

That was 1966, and six years later Maraist was named president of Acadiana Bank in Eunice. Then, in 1979, he started L’Acadien Federal Savings and Loan (named after his college yearbook) in New Iberia. But he is best known as the longtime chairman of the board of Home Bank, where he remains a key player after having helped it navigate a successful initial public offering in 2008.

This year's ABiz Entrepreneur of the Year, Maraist has for decades been involved in the oil and gas business, initially buying distressed assets in the early 1980s and going on to build several successful companies. He most recently sold Timco Services in 2015 to Frank’s International. He’s also a real estate developer/investor and owns Le Triomphe Golf and Country Club, among other investments.

Maraist joins a prestigious group of past Entrepreneurs of the Year that includes Butch Darce (2015), Keith Myers (2014), Lenny Lemoine (2013), Eric Scott Olivier (2011) and Dr. Kip Schumacher (2009). The Entrepreneur of the Year Award is presented to business leaders for innovation, job creation and potential for job creation, vision, leadership, expansion, financial performance and community involvement.

George Marks, 2016 winner of the Jillian Johnson Award for Entrepreneurship in the Creative Economy
Maraist will be honored at ABiz's annual Entrepreneur of the Year Symposium on Wednesday, Jan. 11, at The Doubletree by Hilton in Lafayette at noon. He will be joined on the stage by artist George Marks, the 2016 winner of the Jillian Johnson Award for Entrepreneurship in the Creative Economy, which honors the life and legacy of Lafayette’s beloved business owner and creative force who was one of two women killed in the tragic Grand Theatre shooting in July 2015. The winner of the inaugural Jillian Johnson Award last year was Cathi Pavy of BBR Creative.

Marks has been a prime force in helping transform the sleepy bayou town of Arnaudville into a cultural jewel on the Teche, turning the community into a haven for artists, musicians, nature adventurers and, in the works, a center of Francophone studies for students near and far. Marks’ NuNu Arts Collective has served as the binding agent for this renaissance, bringing together a host of creatives ­— micro-brewers, luthiers, chefs, cultural entrepreneurs — for a common purpose.

Both men will be featured in the next issue of ABiz, which publishes Thursday, Dec. 15.

The luncheon is sponsored by The Opportunity Machine and One Acadiana. Click here to purchase tickets, and for information on additional sponsorship opportunities, contact Jenna King via email or phone: jennak@theind.com or 337.769.8602.

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