Clark Butler entrepreneur awards recognize excellence


Clark Butler waves during the S. Clark Butler Entrepreneur of the Year awards dinner Friday.

AARON DAYE/Special to The Sun
Published: Saturday, April 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 31, 2006 at 11:20 p.m.

A car dealer irretrievably linked to the community, childhood buddies who created one of the world's leading speed-dating brands, and a venture capitalist in high technology shared accolades at the annual S. Clark Butler Entrepreneur of the Year awards dinner hosted by the University of Florida Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. It was held at the Hilton UF Conference Center.

And possibly the best known entrepreneur in Gainesville - S. Clark Butler - received royal treatment as the center honored him for 68 years of advancing retail in Gainesville.

Arnold A. Heggestad, finance professor at the Warrington College of Business and director of the center, emceed the banquet.

Butler's longtime partner and close friend, Roy Lambert, praised Butler's accomplishments.

"We had thought he had lost his mind, building on land somewhere out close to nothing," Lambert said. "But in 1975 he began building the first phase of the Miracle Mile."

What Lambert was referring to was Butler Plaza, a swath of shopping and services from SW 34th Street to Interstate 75. Butler has also built the Windmeadows Apartments, Lakeshore Towers apartments as well as 700 residences. Clark served as city commissioner and mayor-commissioner for a period of time in the 1950s.

Butler accepted an award, as well as the Key to the City from Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan and a proclamation from Alachua County proclaiming March 31, 2006, as Clark Butler Day. He was also awarded the Presidential Medallion from UF President Bernie Machen.

The center winners were:

  • Roland Daniels was named the 2006 Gainesville Entrepreneur of the Year. Daniels is president and general manager of Saturn of Gainesville and actively participates in local community and civic organizations. In addition, he has fostered local entrepreneurial opportunities, is a member of the board of trustees at UF, and mentors students of the center.

    "I have been the recipient of a lot of opportunities from others. I stand here because there are a lot of people who stood behind me," he said.

  • Ken Deckinger, CEO, and Adele Testani, president, are co-founders of HurryDate and co-recipients of the 2006 Clark Butler Entrepreneur of the Year award, which recognizes outstanding UF alumni under 45.

    Testani was in California, but Deckinger was the keynote speaker, espousing the spirit of encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit. He noted the first HurryDate experiment netted $3,000, which was invested back into the company. The concept now sponsors more than 150 events a month around the country, the United Kingdom and Canada.

    HurryDate matches mutually attracted people who then are free to contact each other through the HurryDate secure e-mail system.

  • Manny Fernandez of Sanibel is the 2006 Distinguished Alumnus Entrepreneur of the Year.

    Fernandez, chairman of SI Ventures, has 35 years of experience as a venture capital investor and senior operating executive in the information technology and semiconductor industries. He's been credited with helping to create the first laptop computer. He is also a member of the board of trustees at UF.

    The winners were chosen from more than 200 nominees based on their major contributions to enterprises and creativity. Bringing credit and distinction to UF is also on that list.

    Marina Blomberg can be reached at (352) 374-5025 or blombem@gvillesun.com.

    ENTREPRENEURS on Page 9B

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    ENTREPRENEURS:

    Honored for contributions to business

    Gainesville, FL--033106--S. Clark Butler waves to audience after being presented the proclamation declaring March 31st Clark Butler Day in Gainesville, FL during the S. Clark Butler Entrepreneur of the Year Awards dinner at the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center on Friday, March 31, 2006.--(Aaron Daye/The Gainesville Sun)

    to audience after being presented the proclamation declaring March 31st Clark Butler Day in Gainesville at the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center

    at the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center on

    Deckinger

    Testani

    Daniels

    Fernandez

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