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July 22, 2018

TopRank Florida

Influentials - Top 150 Public Companies

| 6/1/2010


Clarence Otis
Clarence Otis, Darden Restaurants
With 1,800 restaurants, 180,000 employees and a $2.5-billion supply chain, Darden Restaurants’ influence extends all the way to Capitol Hill, where the company has advocated on issues ranging from healthcare reform to the creation of a national standard for the posting of nutritional information on menus. CEO Clarence Otis has made the company (Public No. 11) a national leader in workplace diversity. The $18-million package of tax incentives and road improvements that helped the company build its new 465,000-sq.-ft. headquarters in south Orange County is a testament to local unwillingness to lose Orange County’s only Fortune 500 company.

Liz Smith
Liz Smith, OSI Restaurant Partners
» OSI Restaurant Partners (Private No. 10), the Tampa-based parent company of Outback Steakhouse and other restaurant chains, is a big civic player in the Tampa Bay area via its sponsorship of charity and sporting events like the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am, which has raised more than $3.4 million over six years for area charities. New CEO Elizabeth “Liz” Smith, former president of Avon Products, was named one of Fortune magazine’s “50 most powerful women in business” in 2009.

» Rosen Hotels & Resorts (Private No. 100), Florida’s largest independent hotel chain, did what many chains couldn’t afford to do during the recent recession. It spent $30 million on hotel upgrades. Founder Harris Rosen, a local business icon, dubbed it the “Rosen stimulus plan.” The unconventional hotelier and prominent Orlando philanthropist also made a splash on the national stage during last year’s healthcare reform debate for his innovative approach to providing his employees with healthcare via onsite clinics.

Lesa France Kennedy
Forbes calls Lesa France Kennedy, CEO of International Speedway Corp., “the most powerful woman in sports.” [Photo: Kelly LaDuke]
» Brian France is behind the wheel at NASCAR (Private No. 9), but it’s older sister Lesa France Kennedy, CEO of International Speedway Corp. (Public No. 53), who grabs the spotlight. Forbes recently dubbed Kennedy the “most powerful woman in sports” for running the $750-million organization that oversees the Daytona International Speedway and other stock car racetracks across the country.

» Royal Caribbean Cruises (Public No. 13) dominated travel and tourism industry headlines last year with the christening of its new megaship, Oasis of the Seas, a 16-deck, $1.5-billion ship that is five times larger than the Titanic. The cruise giant is also an industry leader in efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. Chairman and CEO Richard Fain is a member of the Florida Council of 100, sits on the University of Miami’s board of trustees and serves on the executive committee of the United Way of Miami-Dade County.

» Rival cruise operator, Miami-based Carnival Corp. (Public No. 4), remains the world’s biggest operator of cruises, with brands ranging from mass market leader Carnival Cruise Lines to the ultra-luxury Seabourn Cruise Line. Chairman and CEO Micky Arison, who also owns the Miami Heat, is the 56th-richest man in America, according to Forbes, with a net worth of about $4.3 billion.

» Orlando-based SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment (not ranked) operates 10 U.S. theme parks — including Busch Gardens and Adventure World in Tampa and SeaWorld, Discovery Cove and Aquatica in Orlando — and employs 25,000. The company, which is owned by the private equity firm Blackstone Group, is active in habitat and species conservation, animal rescue and rehabilitation.

OUT-OF-STATE FIRMS: Overseeing Walt Disney World’s 60,000 workers and a massive expansion project is President Meg Crofton, a prominent player in central Florida who chairs the board of directors of the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission and serves on the boards of Orlando Health, the Central Florida Regional Commission on Homelessness and Rollins College.

» Universal Orlando Resort, a joint venture between General Electric’s NBC Universal and Blackstone Group, attracts between 9 million and 10 million visitors every year who inject billions of dollars into Orlando’s economy. Local hotels and restaurants are hoping that the No. 2 theme park’s new Harry Potter attraction, the “Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” will reignite travel to Orlando. Tom Williams serves as chairman and CEO of Universal Parks & Resorts. — Amy Keller

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