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i4 Business Magazine Announces 2018 Business Leaders of the Year



i4 Business magazine will recognize some of the most admired and influential individuals in Central Florida on December 5 at the 2018 Business Leaders of the Year Awards dinner at the Country Club of Orlando.

Nominations opened in July for individuals whose business success, community engagement and innovation have helped move the region forward. Eight business leaders have been selected from this year’s nominations.

The top honoree for 2018 is Harris Rosen, an instrumental presence in the development and continued growth of Central Florida’s International Drive. His philanthropy expands beyond the walls of his numerous hotel properties, touching the community through other initiatives including the Rosen YMCA Aquatic Center and the Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida.

The other honorees include:

TOURISM – George Aguel, CEO and president of Visit Orlando. Under his leadership, the organization supported, marketed and cultivated Orlando as it set a record in 2017 by becoming the first U.S. destination to host more than 72 million visitors. The destination has seen increases in both leisure and business tourism, with the Orange County Convention Center setting all-time records for attendance.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP – Angela Alban, CEO and president of SIMETRI Inc. Her passion for solving medical education and training problems led her to start the company in 2009. She was recently appointed to the UCF Dean’s Advisory Board and currently serves on the boards of the National Center for Simulation and United Cerebral Palsy of Central Florida. Alban is also the board chair for Orlando Inc.

TECHNOLOGY – Harry Ellis, president and CIO of Next Horizon. Using his creative expertise in IT and his entrepreneurial drive, Ellis has led the company to more than double its growth in both size and revenue in the past three years.  Next Horizon is a big supporter of Seminole State College, and Ellis has established two scholarship funds there. He currently serves as chairman of the Seminole County Regional Chamber of Commerce.

HEALTHCARE – Olive Gaye, president and CEO of GenCare Resources. Her vision for personalized and compassionate home healthcare emphasizes the dignity and individuality of the patient. Gaye’s contributions to the community include work with the Orange County Sherriff’s Office and the Coalition for the Homeless, and she was recognized in 2017 as one of GROW FL’s 50 Companies to Watch.

SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR – Karen Keene, president of ATHENA Orlando Women’s Leadership Inc. Keene serves as director of marketing and business development for Dean Mead law firm, and her work in the community includes setting up a $100,000 scholarship program in partnership with the UCF School of Business through ATHENA and launching an ATHENA NextGen prototype that is being replicated in the U.S. and other countries. 

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT – Jerry Ross, CEO and president of the National Entrepreneur Center. His vision helped unite the 14 organizations that comprise the NEC, which offers resources that support economic expansion and helps businesses grow. His dedication to entrepreneurship and collaboration has led Orlando to be No. 1 in the nation for job creation for the past two years.

EDUCATION AND TALENT PIPELINE – Sandy Shugart, president of Valencia College. Under his direction, the college is working with UCF on a joint campus that will transform downtown Orlando when it opens in the fall of 2019. With more than 70,000 students a year across its locations, the college is also working closely with local leaders to develop a talent pipeline that meets the specific needs of the business community.

The awards event will be held from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 5, 2018, at the Country Club of Orlando, 1601 Country Club Drive, Orlando, FL 32804. Limited sponsorship opportunities are still available. For information, contact Publisher Cherise Czaban, Cczaban@i4biz.com or 321-848-3530. To purchase tickets or corporate tables, click here or contact Communications Manager Meaghan Branham, mbranham@i4biz.com or 321-759-8977.



Through its print and digital platforms, i4 Business magazine promotes the spirit of entrepreneurship and provides a showcase for and about entrepreneurs and business leaders throughout Central Florida. Now in its sixth year, the magazine is produced monthly in Orlando.

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About the author

i4 Business

i4 Business magazine has become one of the most trusted voices for and about the Central Florida business community. Each month through our print and digital platforms, we provide access to meet, to learn from and to learn about some of the incredible entrepreneurs and business leaders who are shaping our region.

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