If one is seeking a role model in the world of entrepreneurship, mentoring and business support, a look in the direction of Indianapolis-based businessman John Thompson would be an excellent start. In November, Thompson was awarded the Indiana Chamber’s 2019 Dynamic Leader of the Year honor.

In addition to owning four companies, he invests in a number of other operations. He is chair of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation’s Entrepreneurship Committee and is the organization’s long-serving board member.

In Thompson’s own words:

“My areas of interest in giving back time, talent and treasure are health, education and welfare – not welfare in terms of a welfare system, but the welfare of people. A big component of that is economic development, training and skill enhancement. That’s how you help people. You teach them how to fish. You only give them fish while you’re teaching them to fish.

“Mentoring is big to me. That’s the answer to me: mentoring young folks.”

Chuck Surack, founder and CEO of Sweetwater Sound in Fort Wayne, is the 2019 Ogletree Deakins Business Leader of the Year. His 40-year entrepreneurial journey is a classic story of doing the right things for customers and employees.

Governor Eric Holcomb is the first recipient of the renamed Birch Bayh-Richard Lugar Government Leader of the Year honor. And Plymouth is the 2019 Republic Airways and LIFT Academy Community of the Year.

Also honored at a separate luncheon were Volunteers of the Year Casey Stanley, member of the Tech Policy Committee; Larry Gigerich, chair of the Economic Development Committee; and Donna Niesen, a key tax advisor for small and medium-sized businesses.

Full stories, videos and press releases for all the winners are available at www.indianachamber.com/2019-annual-award-winners/. Mark your calendars for the Chamber’s 31st Annual Awards Dinner on November 10, 2020.
Adam H. Berry is vice president of economic development and technology at the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. He joined the organization in 2019.