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Bay area entrepreneurs among Ernst & Young award honorees

Entrepreneurs from Tampa and Clearwater were among the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award winners announced in Orlando on Thursday night.

Winners for West Central Florida include Jeff W. Bak, president and chief executive officer of HealthPlan Services Inc., who won the award in the health care services category, with Arnie Bellini, chief executive officer, and David Bellini, chief operating officer, of ConnectWise winning in the technology category.

For the retail and consumer products category, the winner was Todd C. Christopher, founder and chief executive officer of Vogue International LLC in Clearwater. In the “emerging” category, Bobby Harris, president and CEO of BlueGrace Logistics in Riverview, took the award. In the family business category, Larry C. Morgan, chief executive officer of Morgan Family Ventures in Tampa, received the award.

Stuart A. Miller, CEO of Lennar Corp., Miami, received the lifetime achievement award.

The Ernst & Young awards recognize the contributions of people who inspire others with their vision, leadership and achievement.

Winners are either nominated by Ernst & Young or are self-nominated, said Ernst & Young spokeswoman Suzie Boland.

“Basically, they are judged on their ability to have grown the company,” she said. “They don’t have to be the founder as long as they have been with the company for several years. An independent panel of judges looks at what they have done to grow the company and how significant those efforts have been and the stability of the company. They also look at community involvement.”

The judges are past award recipients, leading CEOs and other regional business leaders.

The award recipients were recognized Thursday at the Hilton Orlando.

“These entrepreneurs truly demonstrate the passion, dedication and vision it takes to achieve remarkable success,” said Greg Rosica, an awards program partner.

“They are accomplished business leaders who have contributed a tremendous amount to the community,” he said in a statement.

The Entrepreneur of the Year program honors entrepreneurs regionally in June, leading up to the national awards in November. Regional award recipients are eligible for consideration for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year national program. National award winners will be announced in Palm Springs, California, on Nov. 15.

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