The innovators at the downtown business incubator Awesome Inc. have come up with their newest idea, a way to honor the state's entrepreneurs.
Awesome Inc. and several other partners will launch the Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall of Fame on Wednesday with the induction of nine high-profile Kentucky businessmen.
Brian Raney, founder of Awesome Inc., said the idea was first discussed a year ago, and organizers found "there aren't very many entrepreneurship halls of fame at all."
Over the course of the past year, the organizers met with representatives of partners in the project including the Kentucky Science and Technology Corp. and Kentucky Small Business Development Center and came up with a short list of who should be the first class of inductees.
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■ Ralph G. Anderson, the late founder of engineering firm Belcan;
■ John Y. Brown Jr., who built KFC into a national chain;
■ Jim Host, founder of sports marketing firm Host Communications;
■ Pearse Lyons, founder of Alltech;
■ Davis Marksbury, co-founder of Exstream Software;
■ Warren Rosenthal, who helped build Long John Silver's;
■ John Schnatter, founder of Papa John's International;
■ Lee Todd, University of Kentucky president and founder of technology firms Projectron and DataBeam;
■ William T. Young Sr., the late founder of W.T. Young Foods and W.T. Young Storage Co.
Among the qualities considered, Raney said, were revenue and profit growth, innovation, contributions to the community, and job creation.
He said he expects future classes will be smaller. Inductees will receive plaques, which will also be on display at Awesome Inc. All of the living inductees will be in attendance at the Wednesday induction except Lyons, who has prepared video remarks to be shown, and Schnatter.
The event will also honor five emerging entrepreneurs — Randy Riggs of Advanced Cancer Therapeutics, Keith Ringer of Metro Mojo, Ben Self of Blue State Digital, Randall Stevens of Mersive Technologies and ArchVision, and Audra Stinchcomb of AllTranz.
"All of the people who are being inducted into the Hall of Fame were at the same stage as these up-and-coming ones at one point, so we felt like in an effort to encourage more entrepreneurs at that level, it would be great to recognize these five," Raney said.