In celebration of its 10th anniversary this year, the Pacific Coast Business Times is launching its first annual Tri-County Business Hall of Fame.
The five people inaugurated into this year’s hall of fame are dynamic leaders who have shaped the tri-county region in unprecedented ways. They will be honored at the Business Times’ 10th Anniversary gala event on April 12 at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort in Santa Barbara and will be profiled in-depth in the anniversary special section publishing March 19.
Here is a little more about each hall of fame winner:
• Martin V. “Bud” Smith, is this year’s only posthumous winner. The legendary developer held properties throughout the Tri-Counties and reshaped the landscape of Ventura County with his high-rise Financial Plaza in Oxnard and the Channel Islands Harbor. But the Martin V. Smith name might ring the loudest bell today for the developer’s various philanthropic efforts. Smith and his wife, Martha, created the Martin V. and Martha K. Smith Foundation to support area nonprofits. His $8 million gift to California State University, Channel Islands named the Martin V. Smith School of Business and Economics, as well as the Martin V. Smith Professorship in Land Use Studies, and the Martin V. Smith Center for Integrative Decision Making after him.
• Jack Gilbert, once the chief executive officer of a large Los Angeles-based corporation, later founded Thousand Oaks Land Development and played a major role in the development of Thousand Oaks area, leading that city’s emergence as a major business and corporate center. The self-made millionaire was a major donor to California Lutheran University, giving a then-record $5 million to the school for construction and modernization of the campus. His son, Rod, today continues in the TOLD Corp. family business.
• Michael Towbes is the Santa Barbara area’s most successful developer and owner of the Montecito Bank & Trust. The 80-year-old is a local living legend, equally so for The Towbes Group, his investment, property management and real estate development firm and for the $955 million community bank of which he’s the sole shareholder. He has turned his bank ownership into a philanthropic engine, giving out $1 million a year in community dividends. He led the restoration of the historic Granada Theater in Santa Barbara and has been a major donor to Santa Barbara City College and the University of California, Santa Barbara.
• Carrol Pruett, the longtime chief executive of Mid-State Bank & Trust, is widely credited for transforming the landscape of banking in San Luis Obispo County and northern Santa Barbara County. Taking the helm as president in 1969, Pruett became chairman of the board in 1999. His sharp business sense led him to sell Mid-State to Rabobank in 2007, a decision which brought one of the world’s largest banks — and its capital — into the tri-county area.
• Jeff Henley, chairman of the board of multi-billion dollar software firm Oracle Corp., is a distinguished alumnus of the University of California, Santa Barbara. Also the former chief financial officer of Oracle, Henley has been a resident of Santa Barbara since 2000, commuting to work wherever his Oracle duties take him. Henley has been a major donor to his alma mater, funding technology management programs and scientific research programs at UCSB.
• For 10th Anniversary event information, please contact Marketing Director Jennifer Hemmy at (805) 560-6950 or [email protected].