Monday, February 06, 2012
The Parkland College Foundation recently announced its selection of local businessman Dwight Miller as its 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year. Miller owns and operates ten McDonald’s franchises in Champaign-Urbana and Decatur.
Miller’s life is an inspirational story in which hard work and determination has garnered entrepreneurial success. A product of Detroit’s predominantly black neighborhoods of the 1950s and 1960s, Miller went on to earn an accounting degree from Findlay College in Ohio (now University of Findlay) in 1973. After working five years as an accountant with Owens-Illinois Inc. in Toledo (where he met his wife Alice), he took a job as a manager-trainee with the McDonald’s Corp. For the next decade, Miller ascended the corporate ranks at McDonald’s; some of his titles were Zone Licensing Manager for Franchise Development in the northeastern U.S.; Operations Manager for company-owned restaurants in Connecticut and western Massachusetts; and Field Services Manager for more than 200 restaurants. Yet despite being groomed for high administration, Miller wanted to be an entrepreneur—to own his own franchise.
Miller left McDonald’s management and, with his wife Alice, began operating franchises of United Consumer Club, a wholesale catalog shopping club, in New York and Minnesota; the latter area’s franchise was listed among the top five in the country out of 100 clubs. Then, in 1997, Miller returned to McDonald’s; he and his wife operated franchises in St. Charles, Missouri before selling them in 2000 to purchase their current restaurant group, under the name Dash Management, in the Champaign area.
Along with successful business leadership, Miller is active in community leadership as well. He has served as chairman of the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce (2003-04) and on the boards of the local YMCA and the Cunningham Children’s Home Foundation.
Dwight Miller will receive the V. Dale Cozad Entrepreneur of the Year Award during Parkland’s third annual Entrepreneur of the Year Banquet, an annual fundraiser for the Parkland College Entrepreneurial Program, on Wednesday, June 6, at the I Hotel and Conference Center in Champaign.
The Parkland College Entrepreneurial Program is the result of a partnership between the college and community members committed to developing strong, educated leaders for today’s workforce. The program provides scholarships to students demonstrating potential for growth as future managers, leaders, and innovators, for immediate entry into District 505 industries and companies. Ultimately, the Entrepreneurial Program aims to increase the number of graduates with a strong work ethic and commitment to excellence that supports existing industry, creating a more attractive community to future employers.