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Posted: January 01, 2012

Colorado Business Hall of Fame 2012

Junior Achievement and the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce honor six people whose business acumen and community involvement merit legacy status

A crisp, cold beer in a silver can. A world-class bottle of cabernet sauvignon. A plush micro-fiber sofa sleeper. A down-filled leather après ski jacket. Investment capital to take your business to the next level.

Get to know this year's Colorado Business Hall of Fame laureates, and you might be able to take care of some of your most pressing wants and needs. Now in its 23st year, the Colorado Business Hall of Fame pays tribute to the state's business leaders while promoting free enterprise and community service.

This year's class includes brewing executive Pete Coors; oil and gas veteran and famed Silver Oak vintner Ray Duncan; American Furniture Warehouse owner Jake Jabs; ski resort and catalog retailers David and Renie Gorsuch; and private equity fund chief and former corporate executive Landis "Lanny" Martin.

Profiles of the laureates appear on the following pages. They will be honored as the newest members of the Colorado Business Hall of Fame on Jan. 26. The black-tie dinner begins at 6 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center, 650 15th St.

Proceeds of the event help fund the K-12 business and economic programs of Junior Achievement, which reaches 105,000 students in 525 schools throughout metro Denver, Northern Colorado and Wyoming, thanks to the efforts of 3,700 dedicated volunteers.

"The contributions of the Colorado Business Hall of Fame's six new laureates provide excellent examples for all future businessmen and women," said Robin Wise, president and CEO of Junior Achievement Rocky Mountain.

Last fall, Maria Hernandez, a junior at Jefferson High School in Edgewater, participated in the JA Finance Park, a touring program that debuted in Denver at a Wells Fargo bank atrium.

"Financing your budget is really important. You need to spend money on what you really need, not what you want, just the things that are necessary and come first," the 16-year-old said after she addressed a group of business leaders at a reception to kick off the program.

Such scenarios present the kind of reality-check experiences that encourage middle- and high-school students to stay in school and strive for good careers, Wise said.

"They also see kids during the park experience who have more education and kids who have less education," she said. "And the kids who have more education have more choices in life and in this park. And that's the way it is in life."

The Hall of Fame dinner - underwritten by UMB Bank - also helps support the leadership, public policy, economic development and small-business development programs of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.

For nearly 150 years, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce has been a leading voice for Colorado's business community. Its membership spans the seven-county metro region and includes 3,000 businesses and their 300,000 employees.

Along with its affiliates, the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation, the Denver Metro Chamber Foundation, the Denver Metro Small Business Development Center and the Colorado Competitive Council, the chamber plays a vital role in defining the future economic landscape of the state.

The chamber focuses on such key issues as transportation infrastructure, affordable health care; and a competitive primary, secondary and higher education system. Through the metro chamber foundation's Leadership Exchange program, business and community leaders visit such metro areas as Portland, Ore., and Boston each year to glean ideas they can adapt in Denver.

Last year, the foundation created the Colorado Experience program to organize similar trips within Colorado, debuting in Colorado Springs (and resuming this April in Fort Collins).

"The foundation has taken this opportunity to bring us together in our own state where we can learn and grow together and establish stronger ties in our region and really start to look at our own goals and objectives," Kelly Brough, the chamber's president and CEO, told participants gathered for the Colorado Springs trip last year.

To purchase a table or tickets for the Colo ado Business Hall of Fame gala, contact Shawna Robbins of Junior Achievement at (303) 260-6286 or email her at srobbins@jacolorado.com .
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