Busch Entertainment chosen for USF's College of Business Free Enterprise Award

TAMPA, Fla. (Oct. 15, 2008)Busch Entertainment Corporation has been selected to receive the 25th Celebration of Free Enterprise Award, presented by the University of South Florida College of Business. A brief press conference to announce the selection of Busch Entertainment as the honoree will be held Oct. 16, beginning at 12:15 pm at the USF College of Business on the Tampa Campus.

Led by President and Chief Operating Officer Jim Atchison, who is a USF College of Business graduate, Busch Entertainment includes Busch Gardens Tampa, which is led by another USF business school alumnus, Executive Vice President and General Manager Donnie Mills.

“Busch Entertainment Corporation personifies the spirit of free enterprise,” said Robert Forsythe, dean of USF’s College of Business. “It is one of the nation’s most prominent theme park operators, with 26,000 employees, $1.4 billion in revenue and operations in five states,” Forsythe said. “Their successful business practices make them perfect for this award.”

Among the reasons this company was selected:

• The company owns and operates ten theme parks in the US, and an additional four parks to open in Dubai by the year 2015. Its parks – including SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Discovery Cove – are world-renowned for providing up-close animal encounters and unparalleled entertainment experiences for more than 25 million guests each year.

• The parks have also proudly proven a 50-year commitment to wildlife conservation, animal care, research and education. This passion is reflected throughout the parks’ award-winning zoological habitats, innovative veterinary care, animal rescue and rehabilitation efforts, education programs and critical conservation initiatives worldwide.

• They care for one of the world’s largest zoological animal collections – more than 65,000 animals, including more than 100 endangered, threatened and at-risk species.

• Busch parks are global leaders in animal rescue and rehabilitation. Since 1970, the parks have rescued more than 15,000 stranded, sick or injured animals, including several endangered and threatened species. The parks’ Animal Rescue & Rehabilitation Team is on call 365 days a year, 24 hours a day and have been dispatched to respond to animals in need throughout the U.S. and around the world.

The Celebration of Free Enterprise is an annual awards program recognizing business leaders or leadership teams demonstrating solid business practices and displaying an entrepreneurial spirit. The most recent recipient was Richard Gonzmart and the leadership team at the Columbia Restaurant, who was honored last October. Previous recipients include author and political commentator William F. Buckley, Jr., Congressman Jack Kemp, former White House Chief of Staff Donald T. Regan, Senator Phil Gramm, Republic Industries Chairman H. Wayne Huizenga, and Indianapolis Motor Speedway President & CEO Joie Chitwood III.

The celebration will be held on May 12 and funds raised by the awards dinner support student scholarships and related programs at USF’s College of Business Administration.

PRESS CONFERENCE: THURSDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2008, 12:15 – 12:35 pm

WHAT: Sheiks, stilt walkers, zoo animals and costumed characters will join the USF College of Business leadership (including College of Business Dean Robert Forsythe) to announce the selection of Busch Entertainment Corporation as the honoree for the 25th Celebration of Free Enterprise award. Busch Entertainment Corporation executive Donnie Mills will also attend the press conference. Cuban sandwiches from the Columbia Restaurant will be provided, free of charge, to students and visitors on a first-come, first-served basis.

WHEN: October 16, 12:15 to 12:35 pm

WHERE: USF College of Business, Graduate Education Wing Exterior (west of the USF Sun Dome), 4202 E. Fowler Avenue, Tampa The University of South Florida’s College of Business Administration is accredited by the AACSB and offers six master’s degree programs, including a part-time, full-time, and weekend Executive MBA program.

The University of South Florida is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community-engaged, four-year public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. USF was awarded more than $360 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2007/2008. The university offers 219 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The university has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 46,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.

 – USF –