There’s no talk about steroids and cutting corners with this hall of fame.
For Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida, the 2022 Business Hall of Fame is about influential, visionary business leaders who have made a significant impact by creating new community opportunities and elevating the educational landscape for youth.
Through their efforts, inductees have helped pave a way for local children when it comes to financial literacy, entrepreneurship and work readiness, according to the organization.
“Our laureates are selected based on their significant impact as a business leader, concern for improving their community, display of the highest level of ethics and actions as a role model for youth and future generations of business leaders,” said Angela Fisher, president and CEO of the local Junior Achievement. “We are excited to induct our 2022 Business Hall of Fame laureates who all exemplify these values.”
This year, JA is inducting four new members to the hall, which dates to 1999.
‘Success related to ethics, right thing’
Rist, founder of Storm Smart, has been repeatedly honored by groups all over the region including finalist multiple times for person of the year and business of the year by The News-Press and a regular nominee for the Cape Coral Community Foundation’s Impact Award.
As his growing company employs close to 300 workers, Rist has also stayed busy with community efforts, such as the Uncommon Friends Foundation’s “Reflections on the River,” which raised money for student scholarships, and the ENPY Awards, honoring non-profits. He chaired a political action committee that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to help get the half-cent sales tax passed on behalf of Lee County schools.
Last year, Lucas Hall at Florida Gulf Coast University, which serves students in the Entrepreneurship and Innovation program, opened, thanks in part to Rist, who donated the bulk of $1 million toward the project. The Rist Family Foundation Maker Space in the building helps students create products for their businesses with 3D printers, a laser cutter, and virtual reality development kits.
In giving the money, he said he was inspired by observing the success of the entrepreneurship program, even before it had a regular building for its studies. Rist gave $250,000 of his donation to the Newton Ethical Leadership Initiative, which provides FGCU support with a leading think tank on ethics and leadership.
“We saw the kids and how turned on they were to what’s going on and how successful they were becoming,” Rist said. “I really believe a lot of the success of our company is related to ethics and doing the right thing. When you do good things, good things happen.”
He and his organizations have assisted veterans, such as $80,000 for the Collier-Lee Honor Flight and $10,000 to help veterans pay down medical debt. Other positions he has held include executive committee of the Lee County Horizon Council, executive chairman of the Uncommon Friends Foundation, leadership on the Good Wheels Board of Directors and as chairman of Cape Coral Council for Progress.
“Lee County has been very good to me and my family,” said Rist, whose company won manufacturer of the year in 2021 awards coordinated by the Lee County Economic Development Office. “I just believe that the county becomes better by people giving back. I come from a world that you don’t have the right to complain unless you are willing to do something about it.”
Junior Achievement will host its annual hall of fame event on Tuesday, April 19 at the Ritz Carlton Golf Resort in Naples, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Sponsorship opportunities and tickets are available at jaswfl.org/ja-hall-of-fame-2. Inquiries can also be made at (239) 225-2590 or email@example.com. Current sponsors for the event include presenting sponsor First Horizon and diamond sponsor Title Professionals of Florida.
The group’s goal in Southwest Florida is to continue providing life-changing, no-cost programs to Southwest Florida students.
Locally, it partnered with classroom business volunteers during the 2020-2021 school year to provide nearly 126,000 hours of instruction to nearly 13,900 students in 576 classes in Collier, Lee and Charlotte counties. Junior Achievement says it’s the world’s largest organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their future, and make smart academic and economic choices.
Through corporate and community volunteers, the mission is to provide relevant, hands-on experiences for students from kindergarten through high school.
Today, JA reaches more than 4.8 million students per year in more than 107 markets across the United States, with an additional 5.2 million students served by operations in more than 100 nations globally.