Ken Babby, Owner and Chief Executive Office of the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp and Fast
Forward Sports Group, is an Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2017 Award winner, announced in June by Ernst & Young (EY). He is eligible for consideration for the Entrepreneur Of The Year National program, which will announce honorees at the Entrepreneur Of The Year National Awards gala November 18 in Palm Springs, California.
The second-year owner of the Jacksonville club, Babby was a regional winner for Northeast Ohio, where Babby is the fifthyear owner of the Akron RubberDucks, Double-A Eastern League affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. The awards program, which is celebrating its 31st year, recognizes entrepreneurs who are excelling in areas such as innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities.
"This is an incredible honor, but it reflects the dedication and passion our amazing team has contributed throughout the last five seasons in Akron and last two seasons in Jacksonville,” said Babby. “Everyone on our team plays an essential role in our growth and success. We are built to serve the Northeast Ohio and Northeast Florida communities, but I’m proud their hard work is now being noticed nationally.”
Babby purchased the then-named Akron Aeros franchise in October 2012. Under his leadership, the team increased attendance more than 27 percent and hosted the Eastern League All-Star Game and Home Run Derby for the first time in 2016. In 2014, Babby helped lead the franchise’s identity change to the RubberDucks, and the team was honored in 2015 as the top promotional team by Minor League Baseball with the Larry MacPhail Award. Babby took over the Jacksonville Suns in September 2015 and led the change to the Jumbo Shrimp entering the 2017 season, which has already set records for highest-attended home series and largest first-half attendance increase ever at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.
“When (Fast Forward Sports Group President) Jim Pfander and I set a vision and values for this company five years ago, we wanted to set a new standard for the role Minor League Baseball can play in a community. We wanted to be more than just a baseball team and become a conduit to serve a greater purpose in the community,” said Babby.
In the past, the EY program has honored the inspirational leadership of such entrepreneurs as Howard Schultz of Starbucks Coffee Company, John Mackey of Whole Foods Market Inc., Pierre Omidyar of eBay, Inc., Reid Hoffman and Jeff Weiner of LinkedIn Corporation and Mindy Grossman of HSN, Inc.
Since its founding in 1986, the program has expanded to recognize business leaders in over 145 cities in more than 60 countries throughout the world.
Award winners in several national categories, as well as the Entrepreneur Of The Year Overall National Award winner, will be announced at the Entrepreneur Of The Year National Awards gala in Palm Springs, California on November 18, 2017.
The awards are the culminating event of the EY Strategic Growth Forum™, the nation’s most prestigious gathering of highgrowth, market-leading companies. The Entrepreneur Of The Year Overall Award winner then moves on to compete for the World Entrepreneur Of The Year Award in Monaco in June 2018.
Founded and produced by EY, the Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards are nationally sponsored in the US by SAP America, Merrill Corporation and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. In Northeast Ohio, sponsors also include PNC Bank, Smart Business, Howard & O’Brien Executive Search, Oswald Companies and Alliance Solutions Group.
About Entrepreneur Of The Year® Entrepreneur Of The Year®, founded by EY, is the world’s most prestigious business awards program for entrepreneurs, chosen from an independent panel of judges including entrepreneurs and prominent leaders from business, finance, and the local community. The program makes a difference through the way it encourages entrepreneurial activity among those with potential and recognizes the contribution of people who inspire others with their vision, leadership and achievement. As the first and only truly global awards program of its kind, Entrepreneur Of The Year celebrates those who are building and leading successful, growing and dynamic businesses, recognizing them through regional, national and global awards programs in over 145 cities in more than 60 countries. ey.com/eoy
About EY’s Growth Markets Network
EY’s worldwide Growth Markets Network is dedicated to serving the changing needs of high-growth companies. For more than 30 years, we’ve helped many of the world’s most dynamic and ambitious companies grow into market leaders. Whether working with international mid-cap companies or early stage, venture-backed businesses, our professionals draw upon their extensive experience, insight and global resources to help your business succeed. For more information, please visit us at ey.com/sgm or follow news on Twitter @EY_Growth.
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About the Jumbo Shrimp
The Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp are beginning a new era of affordable family fun with the 2017 season presented by Community First Credit Union at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. With a new lineup of ticket and group options, there is a reason for everyone to get part of the action by calling the Jumbo Shrimp at (904) 3582846 or visiting www.jaxshrimp.com.