The three people being honored today at the sixth annual Everest Award have one thing in common — creating a significant impact on business, the community and quality of life along the I-75 Growth Corridor.
The recipients — John Boehner, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives; Jenell Ross, president of Bob Ross Auto Group; Jill Wilson, CEO and president of Otterbein Senior Lifestyle Choices — “have set standards of excellence in their industries and have made significant contributions to the development of our region,” said Joe Hinson, president and CEO of the West Chester-Liberty Chamber Alliance.
“Their impact has got to a point where it transcends throughout the entire region,” Hinson said. “What they’ve been able to do … you’re basically seeing that it’s much greater than just affecting their community.”
Boehner, a former small business owner and member of West Chester 75 Inc., got involved in state and local government after seeing firsthand how taxes and red tape affect entrepreneurs, Hinson said.
“Once he became an elected official, one of the key components was that he had not forgot his roots.”
Evidence of that, Hinson said, was Boehner playing a crucial part of the process of getting the Union Centre Boulevard interchange constructed in 1997.
“He established himself here, he was a successful business person and recognized the importance of building a commercial base, a central business district, if you will, for West Chester Twp. and the opportunity, as a byproduct of that, connecting the major markets,” Hinson said. “He played a key role in helping support that initiative and making that vision a reality and helping expedite that process.”
Ross accepted the leadership role of the Bob Ross Auto Group dealerships in July 1997 after the death of her father, Robert Ross Sr., who started the family-owned business in Richmond, Ind. in 1974.
She became president after the her mother, Norma Ross, died in 2010.
“That left Jenell in a solo role … and what she’s been able to do is grow the business to five dealerships in the Dayton area,” Hinson said. “It’s obviously become a regional hub.”
Located in Centerville, the Bob Ross Auto Group includes five franchises: Buick, GMC, Mercedes-Benz, Fiat and Alfa Romeo.
Hinson said Ross also holds the distinction of being the only second generation African-American woman automobile dealer in the nation and the first African American owner of a Mercedes Benz dealership in the world.
“That’s pretty substantial, and it’s in our backyard,” he said.
The Bob Ross Auto Group also has the distinction of being the only Mercedes-Benz, Buick-GMC, Fiat and Alfa Romeo Dealerships owned by an African American woman.
Hinson said Ross also continues to give back to her community via various area events and organizations.
“Because of what she’s been able to do in business, it has benefited not only the business community, but the entire Dayton community,” he said.
Wilson, who joined Otterbein Senior Lifestyle Choices in 1997, has held various positions including chief financial officer, vice president of strategic planning and executive vice president leading up to her promotion to CEO in early 2009.
Her team has led significant growth through acquisition, de novo start-ups and construction expansion at existing locations. Annual revenue is on track to reach $132 million, which would be a 94 percent increase since Wilson was appointed CEO. In addition, Otterbein holds an investment grade rating of A; one of only five multi-site, non-profit senior living systems in the nation with an A or better by Standard and Poor’s and Fitch.
“What she has been able to do is exponentially grow Otterbein, so it actually now has a vision for becoming a community,” Hinson said. “She’s a good example of somebody who started in a role, progressed throughout the organization given that leadership role as president and CEO and has taken and grown the organization to the point of being able to not only be impactful in the industry, but also be impactful in the community and by in large now becoming a regional draw along I-75.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: West Chester-Liberty Chamber Alliance’s Sixth Annual Everest Award
WHERE: 6 to 9 p.m. today
WHEN: Cincinnati Marriott North, 6189 Muhlhauser Road, West Chester Twp.
KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Mark David Jones, president of the consulting firm Small World Alliance. Jones leads a team of former Disney executives to help public and private sector organizations all over the world achieve business results.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: www.tinyurl.com/everestaward2017