Prosper with Purpose

Photos by John Carmody, Strategic Marketing and Communications

2018 Entrepreneur of the Year Awards Emphasize Lasting Legacy of Henry Bloch

Hundreds of warm hearts and souls traveled to campus on Wednesday, Nov. 14 to celebrate the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation, and the legacy of Henry W. Bloch, during the 33rd annual Entrepreneur of the Year Awards ceremony, hosted by the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.


Among this year’s notable honorees were:

  • Steve Case, co-founder of America Online, Henry W. Bloch International Entrepreneur of the Year
  • Toby Rush, founder of EyeVerify, Regional Entrepreneur of the Year
  • Paul DeBruce, founder of the DeBruce Foundation and former Chairman and CEO of DeBruce Grain, Inc., Marion and John Kreamer Award for Social Entrepreneurship
  • Andrea Savage, business administration senior, Student Entrepreneur Award
  • James “Jim” E. Stowers Jr. and Virginia G. Stowers, founders of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, 2018 Entrepreneur Hall of Fame inductees


The Entrepreneur of the Year Awards event has been an iconic Kansas City tradition since 1985. Beyond its philanthropic cause of supporting the Regnier Institute, this event is a valuable forum where Kansas City CEOs, entrepreneurs, business owners, industry legends, world-class faculty and students alike are able to celebrate a common passion – entrepreneurship and innovation. Especially important this year was the event’s return to campus as a way to honor the legacy of Henry Bloch, the endowed namesake of the Henry W. Bloch School of Management and its Bloch Executive Hall.


“We brought the Entrepreneur Awards back to the Bloch School this year because there is no better place to recognize the man who has given so much not only to UMKC, but to the Kansas City community.”

– Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal


One of the more prominent themes of the evening focused on Henry Bloch’s lasting legacy and his entrepreneurial and philanthropic spirit.


“At the Bloch School, we strive to follow the example offered by our beloved benefactor, Mr. Henry Bloch. Henry embodies the philosophy of working hard, doing well, and giving back.”

-Brian Klaas, Dean of the Henry W. Bloch School of Management


Prior to the awards ceremony. students had an opportunity to put their venture creation ideas on display. Projects ranged from a website for group travel planning, disability resource services, autonomous aerial vehicles and more.


Senior Andrea Savage accepted the Student Entrepreneur Award for her role as project leader for UMKC Enactus’ FeedKC project, which identified the dual problems of food waste and hunger in Kansas City. In addition to diverting over a ton of edible meals to organizations and people in need, she has taken the additional step of creating a scalable mobile application to create a sustainable solution that can be used across the country.


“I’d like to thank the Bloch School faculty who have boldened and equipped me to make a difference in the world.”

– Andrea Savage, business administration senior, 2018 Student Entrepreneur Award.


Food for Thought from 2018 EOY Honorees

According to this year’s International Entrepreneur of the Year, Steve Case, entrepreneurs are the job creation engine of almost every community. “If we care about our communities we need to make sure we are embracing, mentoring and celebrating the next generation of entrepreneurs.”


Case, most known for co-founding AOL, works with civic leaders across the country to champion efforts to jumpstart entrepreneurship.


“This a great entrepreneurial nation and I am proud to be a part of it, but when it comes to startup funding it does matter where you live, what you look like and who you know, and we are trying to find ways to level the playing field.”

– Steve Case


To that end, Toby Rush, Regional Entrepreneur Award honoree said though he’s traveled all over the world and has achieved much business success, the key to living a fulfilled life is in relationships.


“If you invest deeply and often in relationships, you will forever have treasure.”

– Toby Rush, founder of EyeVerify, Regional Entrepreneur Award winner


It was evident that many of this year’s Entrepreneur of the Year honorees live by a much similar principle. A principle that Paul DeBruce, founder of the DeBruce Foundation, displayed when he dedicated his Social Entrepreneur Award to his team as he “is simply a facilitator for [former UMKC Chancellor] Leo Morton, [DeBruce Foundation executive director] Leigh Anne Taylor Knight, our astute board members and our very talented and passionate staff.”


“We join UMKC, the Bloch School and Regnier Institute in nurturing the next generation of social entrepreneurs who will forever change the world for the better.”

– Leigh Anne Taylor Knight, executive director of the DeBruce Foundation


Jim and Virignia Stowers’ investments continue to change the world for the better. Sixty years after they founded American Century, the company oversees billions of dollars in assets. This was the company that allowed them to use their wealth to invest back into the lives of others through medical research. The Stowers Institutute, founded in 1994; and BioMed Valley Discoveries, founded in 2002; have received billions of dollars in resources to search for new insights into biology and disease.


“At the Stowers Institute and at BioMed Valley Discoveries, I see people every day who are inspired and guided by Jim and Virginia’s words and deeds. ‘Prosper with Purpose.’  ‘Hope for Life.’ ‘The best is yet to be.’ ‘Do the right thing.’ ‘Trust the team.’ ‘Plan for the long term.’ ”

– David Chao, president and CEO of Stowers Institute, BioMed Valley board member accepting award on behalf of the late Jim and Virginia Stowers.


Event organizers say each of the 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year honorees embody Henry Bloch’s entrepreneurial spirit, community engagement and generous philanthropy. Their stories speak of hard work, perseverance and the importance of paying it forward for generations to come.


Henry Bloch celebrated his 96th birthday last July and 96 entrepreneurs donated $96,000 ($1000 each) in his honor to the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.


Story by Kelsey Haynes, Strategic Marketing and Communications

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