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Carolinas Entrepreneur Hall of Fame Induction: A Celebration of Success

10/12/12 -  

On a gorgeous fall evening an audience of nearly 130 gathered together at Quail Hollow Club to celebrate entrepreneurship and honor four individuals who are exemplary leaders in their fields.  The Class of 2012 inductees included George Dean Johnson, Jr., Johnson Management; Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, Pace Communications; and Joan and Robert Zimmerman, Southern Shows, Inc.

Joan Zimmerman, Entrepreneurial Leadership Circle member and Class of 2012 inductee, kicked off the program by cleverly reminding the crowd that the purpose for the evening is "... all about recognizing entrepreneurs."  She joked, "And for the very few who are not REALLY sure who or what is considered an entrepreneur.  An entrepreneur is one of those highly dependent individuals who managed to create a business ... some large, some small ... because he or she got so much help from the government." After applause from the intrigued audience she moved on to quote Carl Shramm, who The Economist Magazine calls the Evangelist of entrepreneurship, in his definition of an entrepreneur. She recited his words "...entrepreneurs help us renew society's hope for tomorrow.  In addition to bringing forth inventions and innovations we didn't even know we needed, entrepreneurs create new jobs that expand dignity to the human family.  Every time they take a risk to start a new company, entrepreneurs renew democratic capitalism.  They are the lifeblood of our communities and our economy."

This definition did a remarkable job of setting the tone of the remainder of the evening. The entrepreneurs honored are pioneers and visionary leaders in their respected fields and the crowd present was lucky enough to gain insight into what helped pave the road for their tremendous list of accomplishments. 

George Dean Johnson, Jr. shared that success isn't defined by your bank account, but rather by the people who you surround yourself with and the partners you choose in your daily life, both personal and professional.  Bonnie McElveen-Hunter revealed her key to success comes from her mother Miranda, who was present at the event, pearls of wisdom that have guided her on her journey; most memorable being that "can't" is not a word that should be in anyone's vocabulary.  Joan and Robert Zimmerman rounded out the evening reminding us that teamwork is yet another key to success; words that they have proven in their 56 years of marriage and 52 years as business partners.

Each of the honorees took special attention to be reminiscent of the fact that entrepreneurs create jobs, which is what the current American economy needs.  In addition to creating jobs through their entrepreneurial endeavors, they also set the bar high for commitment to community through nonprofit programs and generosity from themselves and their businesses in the fields of education and humanitarian service.  It is safe to say The Hall of Fame Class of 2012 honorees are truly remarkable leaders both in business and in their communities.

Noteworthy attendees included Class of 2010 honoree and owner of the Carolina Panthers, Jerry Richardson, Chairman Emeritus of the Queens Board of Trustees, Hugh McColl and representatives for past honorees including the Belk, Blumenthal and Cato families.

The induction ceremony was made possible by the generosity of the 2012 Corporate dinner sponsor, Wells Fargo. For more information on the Class of 2012 honorees click here.

The Carolinas Entrepreneur Hall of Fame was founded on the efforts of the Entrepreneurial Leadership Circle (ELC) at the McColl School of Business. The ELC is a group of established entrepreneurs who have collectively provided just shy of half a million dollars in scholarships to students studying entrepreneurship at the University. The Hall of Fame resides in Sykes Hall and is open to the public. Everyone is invited to come by and learn about the rich history of entrepreneurial efforts in the Carolinas.

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