JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Ken Babby, owner and chief executive officer of the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp and Fast Forward Sports Group was named a finalist in Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur Of The Year National program. The national winner will be announced Nov. 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 fifth-year 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,” Babby said. “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, attendance increased more than 27 percent and the team 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.
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
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.
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