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Celebrating Entrepreneurial Achievement


Entrepreneurs remain the most resilient resource behind the growth of the U.S. and world economies, creating new jobs and innovative products and services. Each year, Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year (EOY) awards program salutes the accomplishments of these business leaders.

The program started in 1986, in Milwaukee, as a way to honor, and bring recognition to, outstanding entrepreneurs at the helm of dynamic and growing businesses. Since then, it has expanded into a global event, with awards presented in 35 countries around the globe. Each year, thousands of individuals vie for the prestigious honor.

Chain Store Age became the exclusive sponsor of the U.S. retail awards category in 1990. All of the regional retail winners are profiled in this special section.

Methodology: The EOY award criteria include financial growth, company history, current stage of development, future prospects, business leadership, team management and community involvement.

However, a retailer does not have to be the biggest, fastest-growing or most profitable to qualify for an award. The judges also factor in an entrepreneur’s vision and motivation, along with other non-quantifiable but equally critical factors.

To qualify, a nominee must be an owner/manager of a public or private company that is at least two years old. The individual must be primarily responsible for the performance of the company.

Awards process: Nominations can be made by anyone associated with a successful entrepreneur, including employees, bankers, spouses and entrepreneurs themselves. The yearlong award process kicks off in January, when nominations are solicited nationwide. Finalists are interviewed to discuss their nomination information.

In the next step of the process, a local, independent panel of business and civic leaders selects categories and award recipients. Each of these independent regional judging panels selects categories and award recipients based on the quality and quantity of the nominations received. This year, 260 regional winners in a variety of categories, including retail and consumer products, were selected. (The retail winners are profiled in this special section).

In November, past and present EOY award winners from around the world are invited to the annual Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards event, where current-year winners are inducted into the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame. The program also includes business forums, networking activities and guest speakers.

The program culminates with the national-awards gala, where the national finalists and winners are named, as well as the overall Entrepreneur of the Year winner, who will go on to represent the United States at the World Entrepreneur of the Year awards.

To nominate yourself or someone else for the annual Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2008, call (800) 755-AWARD, or visit the Entrepreneur of the Year Web site at

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