Three Orlando-area finalists among those up for Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards in Florida

Three Central Florida business executives have made the short list of 27 finalists for this year's Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Florida awards, which will be announced Thursday night.

The 27 were among about 100 nominations received from throughout the state.

Peter R. Kassabov, chairman and chief executive officer of Digital Risk in Maitland, is nominated in the financial-services category; Michael D. Means, president and CEO of Health First in Rockledge, is nominated in the health-care category; and John J. Jennings, president and CEO of Waste Pro in Longwood, is nominated in the real estate and construction services category.

"These finalists create jobs in our area, encouraging community development and innovation in our broader economy," said Patrick Gramling, director of the Ernst & Young award program.

Regional winners are eligible for the giant accounting firm's national Entrepreneur of the Year awards, to be announced in November. And the overall winner of that moves on to compete for World Entrepreneur of the Year award.

A company representative said more national award winners come from Florida than any other region.

This year's winner of Ernst & Young's Florida Lifetime Achievement Award is Mike Jackson, chairman and CEO of Fort Lauderdale-based AutoNation Inc. or 407-420-6063