A Corbin attorney and business owner with investments in the nursing home, banking, broadcast and print media industries will be honored as the 2004 Entrepreneur of the Year Nov. 18 at the annual Industrial Appreciation Banquet.
Terry Forcht, president and CEO of First Corbin Financial Corporation, said he’s grateful to those who unanimously selected him for this year’s award. Members of the Corbin Tourism Commission and the Greater Corbin Chamber of Commerce select the recipient of the Entrepreneur of the Year honor.
“I’ve really tried to avoid publicity of that nature, but when this opportunity came by, I just felt like it was time to make ourselves known a little bit,” Forcht said.
The banquet, which will be held at the Corbin Civic Center at 5:00 p.m., is an annual event designed to honor local business and business leaders in Corbin and the surrounding communities.
Corbin Director of Economic Development Bob Terrell said Forcht has been one of the area’s most important employers and has made significant contributions to the community.
“Terry is just a great blessing to our area,” he said. “He has made a remarkable impact not only in the Corbin area, but across our state and nation. I sincerely believe he is most deserving of this recognition.”
At the age of 26, with a law degree from the University of Louisville, Forcht said he started his career as a professor in the Department of Economics at Cumberland College in 1964. After two years of full-time teaching, he began to practice law in Williamsburg and, later, Corbin. He also has a Bachelor of Science in Commerce from UofL and a M.B.A in Finance from the University of Miami (Fla.).
Forcht made investments in rental property and mineral land before migrating to the nursing home business with the late Dr. Harold Barton, a local surgeon.
“It was a time when the government was encouraging the expansion of nursing homes,” Forcht said. “They aren’t now. It’s almost impossible to get a certificate of need.”
Forcht and Barton constructed Hillcrest Nursing Home, then started homes in Hazard and Williamsburg before Barton died. Forcht continued acquiring and building homes with Barton’s widow, Nelda Barton-Collings. He currently owns eight nursing homes in Kentucky.
During the 1980s, Forcht was appointed to the Board of Directors of Corbin Deposit Bank. The struggling bank was purchased, and Forcht left to seek a charter for Tri-County National Bank shortly thereafter. It was the first of nine banks he would charter in Kentucky, including banks in London, Somerset, Whitley City, Barbourville, Louisville and Boone County.
Forcht also owns the News Journal newspaper group and a radio broadcast group. His businesses employ about 1,700 full-time employees in three states: Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois.
Regardless of where his ventures take him, Forcht said he has a strong attachment to where it all began.
“I think the local area is very strong. It’s a climate that allows people that want to start a business to do it. This is where our roots are,” Forcht said. “In Corbin, they are always wanting to help you get things going. The community itself just has a lot of assets: the interstate highway system, the school system and the church system.”
He and his wife still reside in the Corbin home they bought in 1968.
At 66-years-of-age, Forcht said he never plans to retire and never plans to draw a dime of Social Security. The “easy life,” he says, has no appeal when compared to the exciting world of business and finance.
“I’m just going to keep on working. It’s much easier for me to get up and go everyday because that’s excitement,” he said. “If you have retirement or you are counting on some sort of retirement income, then I think you must have something else that you want to do. I personally just want to work. I get a lot of satisfaction trying to work things out. Retirement would be very dull.”
Forcht said succeeding in business requires a dedication to a “long-term view” and good judgment. He encourages young people aspiring to be entrepreneurs to take it slow – get rich quick ideas seldom pan out.
“Take your time and don’t make mistakes. Try to get an education and try to get your foundations going,” he said. “A lot of people probably think life is over at 25, 30 or 40, but really in business, or to build up anything, it takes a period of time and it takes good judgment and hard work. You have to build your base, build yourself and get some good values.”
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