KAI Enterprises CEO Michael B. Kennedy has been named an Ernst & Young LLP (EY US) Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2023 Heartland Award finalist. Now in its 37th year, Entrepreneur Of The Year is one of the preeminent competitive business awards for transformative entrepreneurs and leaders of high-growth companies who are building a more equitable, sustainable and prosperous world for all.
Kennedy was one of only 30 finalists out of a pool of more than 300 submissions. He was selected by an independent panel of judges made up of previous award winners, leading CEOs, investors and other regional business leaders. Entrepreneurs were evaluated based on their demonstration of building long-term value through entrepreneurial spirit, purpose, growth and impact, among other core contributions and attributes. The Heartland program celebrates entrepreneurs from Missouri, the Dakotas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota and Nebraska. Finalists were recognized during a June 8 special celebration.
“I am honored to have been recognized as a finalist by this distinguished panel of judges,” said Kennedy. “When my father founded KAI in 1980 as one of the first African American architects licensed in Missouri, I witnessed his entrepreneurial spirit and determination first-hand. As the second-generation leader of this firm, that entrepreneurial spirit lives on in me as I strive to honor the foundation of family values that pioneered KAI: leadership, creativity, honesty, accountability, excellence, integrity and teamwork.”
Headquartered in St. Louis, KAI is a Minority-Owned Business Enterprise (MBE) certified firm providing architecture, MEP engineering and construction services throughout the Midwest, Atlanta and Dallas-Fort Worth.
KAI’s in-house workforce diversity goes well beyond ownership: 49% of KAI’s current staff represents women and minorities. KAI also has a strong outreach program to identify minority-owned and woman-owned businesses that they can collaborate with on projects, and KAI participates in organizations and events that focus on minority inclusion in the construction industry.
Quality, diversity and providing opportunities for everyone is part of the culture at KAI and formalized in the company’s policies and best practices. With a company-wide goal adopted in its tagline “Transforming Communities,” KAI strives under Kennedy’s leadership to improve the quality of life and environment in schools, communities and businesses.
To date, the Entrepreneur Of The Year program has recognized more than 11,000 entrepreneurs throughout the US since its inception in 1986, and it has grown to recognize business leaders across 145 cities in over 60 countries around the world.