The American free enterprise system is being threatened by enemies both foreign and domestic, a prominent Florida real estate developer told Palm Beach Atlantic University students Tuesday.
|Palm Beach Atlantic University's 2010 American Free Enterprise Day medalists include, from left, companion medalists Jon Thurman, James Erneston and Anna Marie Erneston and the American Free Enterprise Medal recipient Edward Kobel.|
But the resulting wave of discontent could bring about the changes necessary to protect the capitalist system on which the nation was built, said Edward Kobel, the 2010 recipient of Palm Beach Atlantic's American Free Enterprise Medal.
Kobel, president and chief operating officer of Tampa-based DeBartolo Development, issued a call to action in his remarks during the annual American Free Enterprise Day ceremony in the Rubin Arena.
"My prayer for this group today, for everybody here in this auditorium, is that you'll kind of seize this moment in our nation's history and sense the discontent and to look at what you can do to really go humbly before God and ask Him in your quiet time with Him to reveal your part in the repair and restoration of American free enterprise in our nation," he said.
Free enterprise, connected with capitalism, feeds charitable giving and generosity, said Kobel, whose company awards scholarships to students and provides grants to exceptional individuals and organizations through the DeBartolo Family Foundation.
He encouraged the assembly of students, faculty, staff and invited guests to use their "holy discontent" as a motivation to change those things that they've observed and that they can no longer tolerate. "Each one of us can find that and get out there and make a difference," he said.
Without free enterprise, he said, it's difficult to tackle the ills of the world and effect change.
"There are horrific conditions right here in South Florida that you can make a difference with," he said. "If you get involved and participate and see lives beginning to change, it will fire you up and it will change your life."
Tuesday's ceremony marked the 25th year of PBA's American Free Enterprise Day celebration, which honors those who are committed to such principles as hard work and service to others.
During the awards presentation, four other business leaders were recognized as companion medalists:
♦ Restaurateur and Palm Beach Councilwoman Gail Coniglio, who also is a mayoral candidate in the town's upcoming 2011 election.
♦ James Erneston, founder and the president of J & J Produce Inc. in Loxahatchee, and his wife of 45 years, Anna Marie.
♦ D. Jon Thurman, CEO of Westbrook Service Corporation, a privately held mechanical services and construction firm that has served homeowners and businesses in Central Florida for 61 years.