It has been quite a year for all of us. The COVID-19 pandemic affected everyone, including the business world, in unexpected ways. Workers were laid off, supply chains were disrupted, and our offices were suddenly empty. Starting up and running a business during any year can be a challenge. Doing so during a year unlike any other we have seen is something else entirely.
And yet, here we are.
In Cincinnati, the spirit of entrepreneurship runs deep. From ice cream to ivory soap, businesses in Cincinnati have been the envy of the world. But that doesn’t mean it has been easy. Folklore has it that some of our most beloved and respected Cincinnati icons struggled. James Gamble only stayed in Cincinnati when he took ill here while traveling with his family to Illinois. Bernard Kroger’s family dry goods store closed in 1873 due to an economic downturn. Powel Crosley Jr.’s first car company went bust in 1907. Carl Lindner, Jr. dropped out of school during the Great Depression to help with his family’s dairy business.
And yet, they persevered.
Many of our award nominees faced hardship over the past year-and-a-half. Even our sponsors found they had to shift and innovate. When all the restaurants in the city shut down, Jeff Ruby’s restaurants found new ways to deliver their iconic food to customers with take-home meals. Venue Magazine, our awards event partner for the past eight years, was forced to shut down in-person technology events. By pivoting, these seasoned entrepreneurs discovered a silver lining. Ruby’s is expanding its catering service and moving to Fountain Square, and Venue’s digital reach now includes audiences in over 100 countries.
The Cincinnati entrepreneurial spirit is resilient. Businesses innovated to use new technologies and leveraged unique skills and assets. They managed not just to survive one of the worst economic situations in history but to thrive. Because of them, we’re seeing our beautiful Queen City continue to grow.
Western & South Financial Group is proud to share in this story of hardship and success. Our humble beginnings started in 1888 as a small Midwestern company providing industrial workers stability through life insurance. Over the years, we’ve gone from selling life insurance door to door to a Fortune 500 company with subsidiaries in real estate, mutual funds, investment and retirement services and solutions, as well as life insurance.
Like other businesses, we found ourselves facing challenges during the pandemic. Yet, we opened The Lytle Park Hotel, even as the travel and tourism industry came to a halt. Our efforts paid off, and the hotel was named a Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice award winner in 2021, the top spot in the city.
We are passionate about supporting entrepreneurs and business owners in Cincinnati. We welcome them as investment partners, giving them the financial stability they need to succeed. Today, we are proud to recognize the nominees for the 2021 John F. Barrett Entrepreneur Vision Awards. We congratulate you on your drive, hard work and commitment to making Cincinnati one of the best places to live, work and celebrate life.
John F. Barrett
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer
Western & Southern Financial Group
ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN THE ENTERPRISE BUSINESSES
FAMILY & PRIVATELY HELD BUSINESSES
JOHNATHAN E. TAYLOR
BERTIE RAY III
CRYSTAL MARIE RENDER