Cory Nettles of Generation Growth Capital will receive the Ken Hendricks Memorial “Seize the Day” award June 2 during a luncheon at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference, according to a press release from the Wisconsin Technology Council. He is the first person of color to receive the honor in the award’s 19-year history.
The conference, to be held at the Italian Community Center in Milwaukee, returns in-person to the Cream City to celebrate the region’s rise as a startup and scale-up hub. Registration is open at witrepsconference.com.
Nettles is founder and managing director of Generation Growth Capital Inc., a private equity fund focused on buyouts and providing growth capital to small businesses and lower-middle market companies in the Upper Midwest. He also served as secretary of the former Wisconsin Department of Commerce, now the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., in the early 2000s, during which time he was an architect of the state’s early stage tax-credit law – the Qualified New Business Venture program.
That program remains in place today and has been adapted over 17 years to changing conditions in Wisconsin’s early stage economy, with bipartisan support from successive governors and Legislatures, according to the press release. Nettles was recently co-chair of the Wisconsin Growth Capital Coalition and serves on a range of business and civic boards and committees, mainly in the Milwaukee region.
The award, which celebrates entrepreneurial leaders who have been crucial to Wisconsin’s economic growth, is named in honor of the late Ken Hendricks, a Beloit businessman and 2006 “Seize the Day” award winner who died in an accident in late 2007.
The Tech Council produces the June 1-2 Entrepreneurs’ Conference and administers the award, which has gone to entrepreneurs who have shown persistence in building their companies.
Past winners include Don Weber of Logistics Health Inc. (2004); Bob Cervenka of Phillips Plastics (2005); Ken Hendricks of ABC Supply (2006); Jan Eddy of Wingra Technologies (2007); Michael Cudahy of Marquette Medical Systems (2008); Toni Sikes of The Guild and Guild.com (2009); Bill Linton of Promega (2010); Bob Hillis of Direct Supply (2011); Kay Koplovitz of USA Network (2012); Fred Foster of Electronic Theatre Controls (2013); Craig and Lea Culver of Culver Franchising System Inc. (2014); Jim Berbee of Berbee Information Networks Corp. (2015); Mark Gehring of HealthMyne (2016); Zach Halmstad of Jamf (2017); Dude and Kerry Frank of Comply365 (2018); Sue Marks of Cielo (2019); Kevin Conroy of Exact Sciences (2020) and Don Zietlow of Kwik Trip (2021).
“Putting early stage pieces together” is the theme of the 20th annual conference, where entrepreneurs from around the state will showcase their innovations, services and technologies. Up to nine panel tracks formed under three unique stages of “launch,” “grow” and “succeed” will appeal to entrepreneurs in all stages. Detailed panel information will be posted soon at witrepsconference.com.