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Queens Names Four to the Carolinas Entrepreneur Hall of Fame

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09/27/12 -  

The McColl School of Business at Queens University of Charlotte proudly announces the 2012 Class to be inducted into its Carolinas Entrepreneur Hall of Fame. They are Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, founder and CEO of Pace Communications; George Dean Johnson, Jr., chairman of Johnson Development Associates, Inc.; and Joan and Robert Zimmerman, co-founders of Southern Shows, Inc.

The awards, sponsored by Wells Fargo, will be presented during the Entrepreneurial Leadership Circle's (ELC) annual dinner October 11 at Quail Hollow Country Club.  Honorees represent major business sectors and are recognized for the scope of their impact on the region's economy and their community service and civic engagement.

Inductee Profiles:

George Dean Johnson, Jr.

George D. Johnson, Jr., currently serves as Chairman of Johnson Development Associates, Inc. However, his history is decorated with dozens of entrepreneurial, business and service accomplishments. 

Entrepreneurial and business accomplishments include former Chief Executive Officer & a former Director of Extended Stay America, Inc., former President of the Domestic consumer Division of Blockbuster Entertainment, a division of Viacom, Inc., and former managing general partner of WJB Video, the largest Blockbuster franchisee.

Since 1985 Mr. Johnson has also been the managing general partner of American Storage Limited Partnership, a chain of 31 self-storage facilities located in the Carolinas and Georgia. His real estate development company, Johnson Development Associates, Inc., has developed in excess of 12 million square feet of retail space, industrial space, office space and apartments. As a founder and past member of the Board of Directors of Advance America, Cash Advance Centers, Inc., he has participated in overseeing the opening of more than 2,600 branches. Mr. Johnson has over 30 years of experience developing and managing various businesses.

To highlight a few of Mr. Johnson's volunteer endeavors, he serves as a member of the Board of Directors of E.J. Victor, Inc., the Palmetto Institute and was the Chairman of the Building Committee for the Arts Partnership of Greater Spartanburg Cultural Facilities. He is a past Director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. He has served as President of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, Chairman of the South Carolina State Development Board and Chairman and member of the Board of Trustees of Converse College. Additionally, Johnson was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1969 and served through 1974.

Bonnie McElveen-Hunter

Bonnie McElveen-Hunter is the Founder and CEO of Pace Communications, current Chairman of the American Red Cross, and former U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Finland (2001-2003).

Pace Communications is the largest custom publishing company in the nation serving an array of Fortune 500 companies such as Southwest Airlines, US Airways, Bluetooth, Carlson Travel Group, Wells Fargo, Toyota, Verizon Wireless, Four Seasons and USAA, making Ms. Hunter one of the nation's most successful women entrepreneurs, ranked by Working Woman Magazine as one of the top 175 women-owned businesses in America. 

Ms. Hunter was appointed by President Bush as National Chairman of the Board of the American Red Cross in 2004 and reappointed in 2007.Her appointment marked the first time a woman has been named to that position. In 2007 she co-founded The Tiffany Circle Society of Women Leaders, which has grown to include 63 Chapters nationwide.  In 2011, all Tiffany Circle Chapters combined raised over $33 million dollars for the American Red Cross

As a long-time philanthropist and charitable-cause activist, Ms. Hunter has served as a member of the International Board of Directors of Habitat for Humanity, chaired the Alexis de Tocqueville Society, served on the United Way of America Board as a member of its National Leadership Council, and founded the United Way Billion Dollar National Women's Leadership Initiative which to date has raised more than 600 million dollars.  Ms. Hunter currently serves on numerous Boards, including Malaria No More, the Kennedy Center International Committee on the Arts, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington National Opera, Elon University School of Law Board of Advisors, the Nido R. Qubein School of Communication, and the North Carolina Museum of Art.

Joan & Robert Zimmerman

Joan & Robert Zimmerman met in Nuremberg, Germany, in 1953 - he was serving Uncle Sam; she was working as a civilian for the US Forces in Europe.  The first time they met, around a coffee table, Robert said to his Army buddies who were with them, "I do believe I'm going to marry this girl."   Joan, never the shrinking Violet, responded... "Well, I'm not spoken for!"   And the rest, as they say, is history.

They did marry, in 1956, in Greensboro, NC - and started a family and a business there. Their business, Southern Shows, Inc., has grown from a 'good idea for a flower and garden show,' to the largest company of its kind in the South; one that produces a variety of consumer expositions down the east coast - from the original flower and garden show, to Home, Farm, Christmas, and a series of  Women's Shows.    Their shows annually attract more than half a million guests; they work on an annual basis with more than 10,000 exhibiting companies; they provide access to business and opportunity for hundreds of small and emerging companies - and, they work with many of the nation's Fortune 500 companies.  

Between them they have received many honors and awards.  Joan has served as chairman of the Charlotte Branch of the Federal Reserve, and is a laureate in the North Carolina Business Hall of Fame.  Robert has served as president of the International Association of Exposition Managers, and chairman of the International Sales and Marketing Executives.  Their combined talents for business, vision, marketing and communication have made them an unbeatable team. Together they have received the Chamber's Entrepreneurial Award, The Ethics in Business Award, been named Travel & Tourism leaders of the 20th Century, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Events Group - and more.  Joan was the first named Business Woman of the Year, as well as the first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for Women in Business, and the Thurgood Marshall Award for excellence- to name a few.  Robert has received the NC Landscape Architects Association Award of Excellence, and lifetime achievement award from the National Association of Public Exposition Managers.

 About the Hall of Fame

The Carolinas Entrepreneur Hall of Fame is in its third year; the Class of 2011 honorees included Herman Blumenthal, chairman and president of Radiator Specialty Company; Wayland H. Cato Jr., co-founder and Chairman Emeritus of The Cato Corporation; and Dr. Jim Goodnight, founder of the SAS Institute. Class of 2010 honorees were Food Lion founder Ralph Ketner, Family Dollar Stores founder Leon Levine and Spartan Foods and Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson.

The Founding Class of honorees - honored posthumously - was also inducted in 2010:

-       William Henry Belk, 1862-1952, Belk, Inc.

-       James Edgar Broyhill, 1892-1988, Broyhill Furniture Industries

-       Thomas H. Davis, 1918-1999, Piedmont Airlines

-       James B. Duke, 1856-1925, Duke Power Co.

-       R.J. Reynolds, 1850-1918, R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company

-       Leroy Springs, 1861-1931, Springs Cotton Mills

Hall of Fame inductees are selected by a panel of judges representing North Carolina and South Carolina. This year's judges are: Former N.C. Gov. Jim Martin; Fritz Hamer, chief curator at the S.C. Museum of History; Tom Hanchett, staff historian at the Levine Museum of the New South; Dr. Jordan Lipton, a founder of Signature Healthcare in Charlotte, N.C.; Melissa McGuire, co-founder and director of Sherpa LLC; and from the McColl School, former Dean Terry Broderick and Chuck Bamford, professor and Dennis Thompson Chair of Entrepreneurial Leadership.

The Carolinas Entrepreneur Hall of Fame is sponsored by the Entrepreneurial Leadership Circle which was formed more than 20 years ago to support entrepreneurial efforts and provide student scholarships at Queens University of Charlotte.  Membership is by invitation, and ELC members are established entrepreneurs in the Carolinas. Queens also offers an undergraduate minor in entrepreneurship for all majors as well as a graduate minor in entrepreneurship through the McColl School of Business.

Queens University of Charlotte is a private, co-ed, Presbyterian-affiliated comprehensive university with a commitment to both liberal arts and professional studies. Located in the heart of historic Charlotte, Queens serves approximately 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students through its College of Arts and Sciences, the McColl School of Business, the Wayland H. Cato, Jr. School of Education, the Knight School of Communication, Hayworth College for Adult Studies and the Andrew Blair College of Health which features the Presbyterian School of Nursing.

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