|By Eileen Mozinski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Feb. 20, 2005 - Stephen H. Marcus, chairman of the Marcus Corp., has been named the 2004 Wisconsin Business Leader of the Year based on a long list of business and philanthropic accomplishments.
Marcus was selected by the Harvard Business School Club of Wisconsin and the Journal Sentinel, and will receive the award in late April in a ceremony at the Pfister Hotel.
The speaker for the dinner has not been chosen.
"The list of things that Stephen Marcus has been involved in over his career is amazing," said Michael Katz, chairman of the Harvard Business School Club of Wisconsin award committee.
Marcus joined the family business in 1962, shortly after graduating from the University of Michigan Law School, and was named president of the theater, restaurant and hotel business in 1980. He became chairman in 1991, succeeding his father, Ben, who founded the business in 1935 with a movie theater in Ripon.
Marcus was a major player in the company's 1962 purchase of the Pfister Hotel and personally oversaw the construction of the Pfister Tower. He led the Marcus Hotel division in the purchase of the Marc Plaza and Sheraton Mayfair hotels and created the Budgetel Inns Division, which was renamed the Baymont Inn & Suites in 1999. That same year, Marcus sold off the last of its restaurant business.
"The (Marcus Corp.) has been a fabulous business for a long time," Katz said.
The Baymont hotels were sold to the La Quinta Corp. last summer, and Marcus helped former employees network and offered to pay them to work for up to six months with the United Way campaign.
"They sent an e-mail to every businessperson in the city saying they had these really good, really qualified people that unfortunately needed a position," Katz said.
In addition to Marcus' business achievements, the award committee was influenced by his extensive community involvement.
"Early on, twenty years ago, when Milwaukee was growing west toward Waukesha, it became obvious that the counties had to figure out how to work together. Instead of just agreeing to be on the committee to talk about these issues, he actually created the committee," Katz said. "Now that's different."
Contributing to the area seems natural to Marcus.
"We do business in the community and we live in the community, so it's important to keep these institutions strong for our families, our associates and our customers," Marcus said.
"It's only if our community is healthy that our businesses will be, too."
Proceeds from the award dinner will help fund Harvard Business School Club's efforts to send local non-profit leaders to Harvard seminars.
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