AKRON  Akron RubberDucks Owner and Chief Executive Officer Ken Babby is a finalist for the Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 Award in the Northeast Ohio region. 

Babby, who purchased the then-named Akron Aeros franchise in October 2012, also owns the Jumbo Shrimp, the AA affiliate of the Miami Marlins. Under his ownership, the RubberDucks have seen a 27-percent attendance in increase and hosted the Eastern League All-Star Game and Home Run Derby for the first time in 2016. 

In 2014, the Babby led the effort to rename the team, with a fan vote helping determine RubberDucks as the new nickname. Since then, the team has set new merchandise sales records, and on a national level, the team was honored by Minor League Baseball in 2015 as the top promotional team with the Larry MacPhail Award. 

The Ernst & Young awards program is in its 31st year and recognizes entrepreneurs who are excelling in areas such as innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities. 

Babby was selected as a finalist by a panel of independent judges. Award winners will be announced at a special gala event on June 22 at the Hilton Downtown Cleveland hotel. 

“While I am incredibly honored by this recognition, the real success in Akron belongs to our amazing team,” Babby said. “They work relentlessly to build the best in affordable family entertainment in Akron and throughout Northeast Ohio.” 

Past honorees of the Ernst & Young program have included entrepreneurs such as Howard Schultz of Starbucks Coffee Company, John Mackey of Whole Foods Market Inc., Pierre Omidyar of eBay, Inc., Reid Hoffman and Jeff Weiner of LinkedIn Corporation and Mindy Grossman of HSN, Inc. 

During its 31 years, the program has grown to recognize business leaders in over 145 cities and more than 60 countries throughout the world. 

Regional winners are eligible for consideration for the Entrepreneur Of The Year National competition and award winners in several national categories, as well as the Entrepreneur Of The Year National Overall Award winner, will be announced at the Entrepreneur Of The Year National Awards gala in Palm Springs, Calif., on November 18.