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Three entrepreneurs inducted into the Business Hall of Fame
Junior Achievement of Northeast Georgia holds its annual banquet
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Mike Cottrell, owner of Cottrell Industries, is one of the recipients of the 2015 Business Hall of Fame Laureate award, given by Junior Achievement of Northeast Georgia. - photo by Kelsey Williamson

Hall of Fame banquet

2015 Business Hall of Fame Laureates: Mike Cottrell, Carole Ann Daniel, Jack Frost
Volunteer of the Year: Phil Bonelli
Business Partner of the Year: Norton Agency
Educator of the Year: Suzanne Jarrard, Chestatee High School principal

Three local entrepreneurs were inducted into the 2015 Northeast Georgia Business Hall of Fame at a banquet Thursday at the Chattahoochee Country Club in Gainesville.

Carole Ann Daniel, Jack Frost and Mike Cottrell were named Business Hall of Fame Laureates by Junior Achievement of Northeast Georgia for their successes, charitable contributions and dedication to the community.

“This group is amazing,” said Lee Highsmith, executive director of Junior Achievement of Northeast Georgia. “They are three of the finest people in the whole Northeast Georgia region. They’re very diverse; they come from all different areas of business.”

Cottrell, a Dahlonega resident, began his career at Bankhead Transportation equipment when he was in college. In 1987, he purchased Cottrell Industries from his father, and the company expanded rapidly. Today, Cottrell is a trustee for the University of North Georgia, vice chairman of the advisory council for the Mike Cottrell College of Business at UNG, and co-chairman of “Living our Values: The Campaign for North Georgia.”

“My father said one of the keys to success was to surround yourself with good people,” Cottrell said. “It’s a honor to be among the people that have received this laureate award.”

Cottrell has been involved with Junior Achievement programs since his youth and has been a strong supporter of the local program ever since.

“I’ve been very impressed by the Junior Achievement growth over the past few years,” he said.

While Cottrell has been a part of Junior Achievement for a number of years, Frost, owner of Memorial Park Funeral Homes, has only recently begun his relationship with the group.

He has only been a Gainesville resident for around 12 years, but Frost quickly invested himself in the local community and made an impact as a comforting presence during hard times.

“Lee (Highsmith) contacted me and asked if they could bring some students out to the funeral home, so I stepped up as a contributor to the program,” Frost said.

He has created iconic places in each of his funeral homes that communities can enjoy, such as the president’s room, which features the birth and burial place of all U.S. presidents, and statues on the grounds of each location. He also has an international art exhibit through The Arts Council that he shares at the train depot. Frost holds a sunrise church service at his locations every Easter and honors community servants with an annual barbecue.

“As I look at the previous people who have won this award, I get chills down my back to be a part of the group,” Frost said.

Daniel, the only woman in this year’s class of inductees, began her career in construction almost at birth, since she was born the same year Carroll Daniel Construction was founded. She has been invested in the company and the community for over 60 years. She currently serves as co-chairwoman of Brenau University’s “Forever Gold” campaign, is a member of Brenau’s Board of Trustees and Brenau’s Executive Board and has helped Junior Achievement since the organization began the Business Hall of Fame.

“I won’t say what I did was easy,” Daniel said. “But opportunity has a shelf life.”

Daniel is now working with Junior Achievement to create the largest high school in Georgia, Discovery High School, which will feature a 45,000-square-foot “discovery center” with a business center and finance park to serve middle school students in Lawrenceville.

“I’m so pleased to be a part of this,” she said. “I’m overwhelmed and humbled. I feel honored because I’m the second woman to receive this award, and the other was Lessie Smithgall, and you can’t really top her.”

In addition to the three laureates named, Junior Achievement of Northeast Georgia also honored the 2015 Volunteer of the Year, Phil Bonelli, the Business Partner of the Year, the Norton Agency, and the Educator of the Year, Chestatee High principal Suzanne Jarrard.

Jarrard helped bring Junior Achievement programs to Chestatee when she became principal three years ago. Since then, the program has taught high school students “real life” education, such as interview skills, what to wear to a job interview, and what not to post on social media.

“My hope is that other principals will see what we’re doing and bring it to their schools,” Jarrard said.

Gainesville High is also deeply involved with the organization, which Jarrard feels has helped reveal available community resources for her students along with professional development.

“We are trying to build community service resources, teach business ethics, and any other real life skill,” she said.

For Chestatee students, the opportunity has absolutely paid off.

“One of my students is interning with Junior Achievement right now,” Jarrard said.

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