An exclusive group of Lawrence business pioneers will be recognized this year for their contributions to the community with election to the new Business Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame is sponsored by Junior Achievement, which has similar honors in communities throughout the country, including Topeka.
“I have spoken to so many people in business about this and just about all of them say, ‘Finally we are taking time to recognize the leaders in our business community.’ I think it’s very important,” said Dale Willey, chairman of the steering committee for the Business Hall of Fame and owner of Dale Willey Automotive, 2840 Iowa.
Organizers say the project, still in the planning stages, is designed to recognize the work from an individual’s entire career.
“It’s really for a lifetime of commitment and service to the community, not necessarily for a particular act or for a particular business achievement,” said Jeff Novorr, Junior Achievement board member and vice president at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.
Three honorees, two living and one who will be lauded posthumously, will be announced at a black tie ceremony, tentatively planned for September at The Oread, 1200 Oread Ave.
Proceeds from ticket sales to the hall of fame event will help fund Junior Achievement projects in Douglas County classrooms.
Junior Achievement teaches students about business, economics and the value of the free enterprise system, while helping them make decisions regarding college and their professional future. Business leaders spend their time in the classroom and serve as mentors.
Glynn Sheridan, president of Sunflower Bank, 4831 Quail Crest Place, was a Junior Achievement student and believes role models are critical for today’s youths.
“I think today it’s all the more important to understand the impact that you can make and that we can start helping kids see ways that they can be successful,” Sheridan said.
Individuals and corporations can also contribute to several sponsorship tiers for the Hall of Fame.
“Hopefully this will raise awareness and allow us to generate some more funds to not only maintain the classrooms that we are currently in but allow us to get into more classrooms,” Novorr said. “What we continue to hear from teachers and from those associated with the school district is that this is a valuable program because this brings business leaders into the public schools, it provides role models and it really reinforces what our teachers are teaching the kids.”
The Business Hall of Fame steering committee has been finalized and is accepting nominations from the public for inductees. To submit a nomination, log onto lawrencebusinesshalloffame.org. The Web site also contains more information about the project.
As for a permanent home for the hall of fame, the steering committee is looking at three possible sites: the Carnegie Library, Ninth and Vermont streets; the Union Pacific Train Depot, 402 N. Second St.; and the Watkins Community Museum of History, 1047 Mass.
Wherever the hall of fame will be housed, business leaders say they hope the institution will become an integral part of the community.
“We are thrilled to be able to select three laureates, people that we can recognize as being leaders in the community, innovators, good employers, good citizens, making life better here in Lawrence,” Willey said.