Tuesday, March 3, 2009 | 2:57 p.m.
When Sun City Summerlin resident Charles Lenzie found out that he was going to be inducted into the Nevada Business Hall of Fame, he described the feeling in one word — "unbelievable."
"After 10 years of retirement, I never expected something like this," Lenzie said. "It's very gratifying. I'm joining a list that includes Steve Wynn, the Cashman family, Del Webb and many others."
Lenzie, a native of South Wilmington, Ill., retired in 1999 after 25 years with Nevada Power Co. His tenure included 10 years as the company's chief executive officer and chairman of the board.
He joined two other inductees into the 2009 Nevada Business Hall of Fame — J. Terrence Lanni and Thalia Dondero.
Lanni retired on Nov. 13, 2008 after 13 years as chief executive officer and chairman of the board for MGM Mirage. Dondero is a former Clark County Commissioner and former member of the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents.
A dinner event honoring the three inductees was held Feb. 19 at the Mirage Hotel & Casino.
UNLV's College of Business created the Nevada Business Hall of Fame in 2002 to honor top business leaders who have contributed to the economy of Nevada. The UNLV College of Business Executive Advisory Board, comprised of leaders from a variety of Nevada businesses, makes the final selections.
The inductees chosen this year exhibit the qualities that UNLV seeks to instill in its students, said Paul Jarley, dean of the College of Business.
"These individuals exemplify the vision to see opportunity, the imagination to think big and the desire to give back to the community that they helped shape," Jarley said.
Lenzie said today's economic environment is a far cry from the one Nevada Power faced in the 1990s and early 2000s, when Las Vegas was one of the fastest growing cities in the United States.
"With the current economic slowdown, Nevada Power is probably getting breathing room to catch up with consumer demand," Lenzie said. "In years past, it was such a challenge just trying to keep up with growth and new projects."
Lenzie said he feels for local residents who are facing unemployment or trying to find work in the midst of the current recession.
"I think these conditions are going to extend beyond 2009, but there are a lot of smart people here who still have plans to build on the Strip," he said. "Once the economy turns around, I think it'll be straight up again."
For more information about the Nevada Business Hall of Fame, visit http://business.unlv.edu/deans/hof.asp.
Jeff O’Brien can be reached at 990-8957 or firstname.lastname@example.org.