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JA Evansville Regional Business Hall of Fame 2023 Laureates Announced


JA Evansville Regional Business Hall of Fame 2023 Laureates

Image caption: JA Evansville Regional Business Hall of Fame 2023 Laureates

Junior Achievement of Southwestern Indiana and the University of Southern Indiana announced the 2023 Junior Achievement Evansville Regional Business Hall of Fame Laureates at a press conference on Jan. 26, at the University of Southern Indiana.
The announcement was made by University of Southern Indiana President Ronald S. Rochon, who served as co-chair of this year's Laureate Selection Committee.

The Laureates will be inducted into the JA Evansville Regional Business Hall of Fame and
presented a crystal award symbolizing the spirit of free enterprise at a celebration breakfast
Tuesday, May 9, at 8 a.m. at the Old National Events Plaza.Those being inducted include the 2023 Active Laureates Mark Schroeder and Greg Wathen; and the 2023 Historical Laureates Colonel William McCurdy and James Igleheart.

“I am honored to host and co-chair the 2023 JA Evansville Regional Business Hall of Fame class
and selection process,” Rochon said. “We had an incredible list of nominees, which made the
selection process very challenging. The 2023 inductees are well deserving and showcase the
caliber of talent and leadership we have in this community.” Individuals are nominated for their outstanding civic and business contributions to the southwestern Indiana region and recognized for their Business Excellence, Courageous Thinking
& Action, Inspired Leadership, and Community Mindedness.

Rochon said this Junior Achievement recognition is very important. “During the selection
process I was struck by the number of trail blazers and impactful individuals, both recent and
historic, from this region,” he said. “In most cases, those nominated are not aware of the size of
their impact, which is why the Junior Achievement Evansville Regional Business Hall of Fame is
so important.”

Biographical Information on the Laureates:

Mark Schroeder: German American Bancorp (Retired)

Mark Schroeder is the retired Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of German American Bancorp. Mr. Schroeder was employed with German American for over 40 years, beginning his career as a vault attendant and working his way up to the top of the company. Prior to becoming Chairman and CEO, he served in various other leadership positions with German American, including Head of Lending, Chief Financial Officer, and Chief Operating Officer. German American grew tremendously throughout the period of Mr. Schroeder’s career, in large part due to his guidance and vision. German American has grown from a small local bank to its current position as a market leader throughout Southern Indiana and a respected industry leader in the state and the nation. German American operates 51 banking offices in 19 contiguous southern Indiana counties and one northern Kentucky county. Despite the economic crisis beginning in 2008 that crippled much of the banking industry, German American had its best year ever thanks to its strong leadership, community focus, and responsible business model. The company has subsequently experienced seven years of consecutive record performance. Mr. Schroeder, a graduate of Vincennes University and the University of Evansville, with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Financial Management, is also licensed as a Certified Public Accountant. Mr. Schroeder has served on several civic and governmental focused Board of Directors, including the Indiana Bankers Association, the Independent Community Bankers of America, the Board of Overseers of St. Meinrad School of Theology and the Strategic Steering Committee of Memorial Hospital. He previously held the position of Chairman of the Community Bankers Association of Indiana and is the current Vice Chairman of the Board of the Indiana Department of Financial Institutions. Mr. Schroeder also serves on the Board of Visitors of the University of Evansville and on the Evansville Regional Business Council. He is a member of the Indiana CPA Society and St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Ireland. Mr. Schroeder has received numerous awards and recognition, including the State of Indiana CPA High Grade Award in 1994, the Jasper Jaycees Distinguished Service Award in 1995, the Jasper High School Distinguished Alumni Award in 2000, a Sagamore of the Wabash in 2003, and the Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Citizen Award in 2009. Additionally, in recognition of German American’s achievements, Mr. Schroeder was named a National Community Banker of the Year in 2016 by American Banker Magazine. Mr. Schroeder was inducted into the JA Dubois County Business Hall of Fame in 2018.

Greg Wathen: Evansville Regional Economic Partnership (Retired)

Greg Wathen is the retired Co-CEO and President the Evansville Regional Economic Partnership. Prior the merger with the Southwest Indiana Chamber, an initiative in which Wathen was instrumental, he was President & CEO of the Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana. Since Economic Development Coalition’s formation in 2007, Wathen has been involved in successful economic development projects that have resulted in the creation of 4,213 new jobs and invested more than $3.3 billion in the Southwest Indiana Region. Under his leadership, for every $1 invested in the Coalition produced a $313 return within the community. Success for Wathen started in a very unconventional way. His first day on the job at the Coalition resulted in helping to save key engineering talent from the closure of Whirlpool. This helped steer projects such as world-wide appliance giant Haier America to place its first research and development tech center in Evansville. The result was a $5 million investment, 50 high-paying jobs and renovation of an iconic structure within the downtown design district in Evansville’s core. Under Wathen’s leadership, the Economic Development Coalition promoted Indiana’s Great Southwest through various marketing channels. Key site selection professionals became aware of Southwest Indiana through events like the Site Selectors Guild Conference and the Korn Ferry Tour Championship presenting by United Leasing & Finance. These strategic partnerships have helped bring about projects like: Haier America, Midwest Fertilizer, PGP International, Pepsi and FedEx. Under Wathen’s leadership the community development team has secured $79 million in grant funding for the region leveraging an additional $132 million into the communities for key infrastructure projects and capacity building. Wathen earned the prestigious honor of being named a top 50 economic developer in the United States multiple times by Consultant Connect. Each year Consultant Connect surveys their robust site selector community and economic development partners to nominate individuals that they feel are top-notch and worthy of the title “Top 50 Economic Developer.” Wathen served locally on the loan program through the City of Evansville and was chair of the technical advisory committee for the Evansville Metropolitan Planning Organization, Brand Director in ‘E is for Everyone”, board member of Elevate Southwest Indiana, serves on the Indiana Economic Development Association Legislative Committee, and serves on local entrepreneurial board Elevate Southwest Indiana.

William McCurdy (1853-1930): Hercules Buggy Company

William McCurdy was the owner and founder of Hercules Buggy Company, the largest factory operation in the greater Evansville region during its time. There were no parades when William H. McCurdy came from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Evansville in 1902 to build and operate a buggy factory. Had a comparable event occurred a half century later there would at least have been a reception and civic dinner in his honor and perhaps the parade, too. In Cincinnati, he had seen the results of a community's effort to upgrade itself by developing cultural aspects to appeal to a wide range of citizens. He came to Evansville as the product of an environment he had helped create in Cincinnati. It appears he was attracted to Evansville by two major considerations. He was buying most of his material from Evansville, with expensive shipment costs to Cincinnati, and Evansville had a somewhat lower wage rate than Cincinnati. In addition, Evansville had a pool of labor skilled in woodworking. The principal associate he brought with him was a wheelwright because good wheels were difficult to make unless supervised by an expert. He bought property at the junction of Morton Avenue with the Southern Railroad, and that is where he built his plant. The McCurdy family joined the First Presbyterian Church and attended regularly. He was an active Mason. There was no way of knowing the buggy plant he founded was the seed from which would grow Evansville's biggest industry. There was no way of knowing he would become a captain of industry, founding and heading a number of vital enterprises. There was no way of knowing his relationship with Sears would blossom into a lasting arrangement of inestimable benefit to Evansville. There was no way of knowing he would be one of a half dozen responsible for bringing to Evansville a tiny Methodist college from Moore's Hill, Indiana, from which would become the University of Evansville. There was no way of knowing he would become the biggest single philanthropist in Evansville's history. There was no way of knowing that his keen foresight would establish a new industry that for years would be the backbone of Evansville's industrial economy. He started buggy production in December 1903. Two years later, he organized the Hercules Body Company at the urging of Sears. His Evansville plants produced 84,000 buggies, 62,000 gas engines and 40,000 truck and auto bodies. It had 1,500 employees, the biggest factory operation in town. He was a manufacturer of proven abilities recognized nationally. It was in 1916 that President Woodrow Wilson named him to the American Defense Society, one of the few laymen in that organization.

James Bridwell Igleheart (1922-2007): International Steel Co.

James Bridwell Igleheart, a fifth generation Evansvillian, was the President and Chairman of International Steel Co., which became one of Evansville's most iconic and successful businesses during his 33-year tenure. After serving in the U.S. Navy during the World War II, Igleheart completed the U.S. Steel Corporation's executive training course. In 1948, he returned to his hometown of Evansville and joined International Steel Co., advancing through the ranks of management to assume the position of President and Chairman. Under his leadership, the company became a top structural steel fabricator and the world's leading producer of revolving doors. The Sears (now Willis) Tower, completed in 1973, is among the buildings for which International Steel contributed revolving doors. The company's steel was also a factor in the Cold War, having their Lindsay Structure shielded rooms in the U.S. Embassy in Moscow in order to block sound and radio waves from being intercepted by our nation's enemies. Jim Igleheart served on the founding board of Junior Achievement of Southwestern Indiana and was the first non- clergy Chairman of the Mayor's Human Relations Commission— a position he used to champion the cause of workplace diversity and equality, which he firmly insisted on practicing at International Steel Co. Additionally, he was a member of the Evansville Rehabilitation Center Board, and a founding member of RESCUE (later renamed Second Chance), a non-profit prisoner rehabilitation program. He served as a Director for the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Institute of Steel Construction, Old National Bank, and the Evansville Museum of Art, History and Science. He was a Trustee of the University of Evansville, Hanover College, and Union Theological Seminary, an elder of First Presbyterian Church, as well as a board member of the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, the state board of Indiana Vocational Technical College and the Evansville’s Future Foundation. In 1993, Igleheart received an honorary doctorate from the University of Southern Indiana for "positively influencing the state of higher education in Indiana and for his wisdom and compassion in seeking justice for all citizens."

Members of the community who would like to join Junior Achievement at the 2023 Evansville Regional Business Hall of Fame may purchase a table or tickets by contacting Melissa Bassemier at 812.425.8152 or

Anyone with information regarding descendants of Colonel McCurdy is asked to contact Junior Achievement at 812.425.8152.

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