A Bethesda accounting firm and a bank are launching a Montgomery County Business Hall of Fame to recognize corporate “titans” in a more “significant way” than organizations currently do, a leader of the program said this week.
Lawrence N. Rosenblum, a partner with accounting and consulting firm Grossberg Co., said that although chambers of commerce and other groups in the county honor local leaders, his group wants to shine a brighter light on top leaders and help build the business community’s prominence.
As a director of Monument Bank, Rosenblum brought the idea up during a board meeting.
“They were excited about it,” he said.
A core group started to research other business halls of fame. One of the longest running they found was formed by the Greater Washington Board of Trade, Junior Achievement of Greater Washington and The Washingtonian magazine in 1988.
“That is a very successful program,” Rosenblum said.
In fact, three of the inductees into the Montgomery hall’s inaugural class are in the Washington Business Hall of Fame: J. Willard Marriott Jr., chairman and former CEO of Bethesda hotelier Marriott International; Norman Augustine, former CEO of Bethesda military and aerospace giant Lockheed Martin; and Clifford Kendall, former CEO of Computer Data Systems.
Others set to be inducted Oct. 15 are former Montgomery County executive Sidney Kramer, president of Kramer Enterprises; Aris Mardirossian, founder of Technology Patents; and Carol Trawick, co-founder of information technology firm Trawick & Associates.
The induction luncheon will benefit the Universities at Shady Grove in Rockville, where it will be held. The campus, affiliated with the University System of Maryland, was chosen because of its mission, Rosenblum said.
“The campus formed to help businesses find staff,” he said. “We considered others [such as Johns Hopkins University], but many businesspeople here have [Universities at Shady Grove] connections.”
Several other halls of fame in Maryland were started by chambers of commerce. There “certainly” is room for more, said Lauren Taylor, marketing and public relations manager for the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce, which launched its hall in 1996.
That program has become popular, with inductees from both large and small companies, she said.
The Maryland Chamber of Commerce’s Business Hall of Fame, which formed in 2000, was modeled on a program that CEO Kathleen T. Snyder began when she led the Alexandria (Va.) Chamber of Commerce in the 1990s. That was called Business Leader of the Year, she said.
“A lot of chambers and organizations have their own programs to honor local folks,” Snyder said.
Avoiding ‘red tape’
Rosenblum said he and other organizers of the Montgomery program didn’t want to approach the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce to avoid “the red tape of another organization.”
“We wanted to stand on our own to escape the political issues that end up surfacing in chambers,” said Rosenblum, who was president of the Montgomery chamber about two decades ago. “We didn’t want to run the risk of not being a priority.”
The Montgomery chamber honors local business leaders in several events, including an annual business awards dinner, set this year for Dec. 5. Chamber leaders could not be reached this week for comment.
Rosenblum said he has not been involved with the Montgomery chamber for some time and he “wasn’t in a position” to comment on the chamber’s recent programs.
The Montgomery hall of fame is soliciting sponsorships and has received good support so far, Rosenblum said.
Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) and University System of Maryland Chancellor William E. Kirwan are among those expected to attend the event. Eun Yang, a morning anchor at NBC4 in Washington, D.C., is slated to be the emcee.
Kirwan said in a statement that he applauds the program’s establishment.
“I am so grateful that the net proceeds from the Hall of Fame event will benefit [Universities at Shady Grove] students as they prepare to take their places as the next generation of Montgomery County leaders,” he said.