What makes—and keeps—a company successful, even in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression? That’s what you’re about to discover here in the stories of 34 great entrepreneurs. They’re all finalists in Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year 2009 competition, which is structured as a regional competition leading to national and international award winners. In a nutshell, you’ll learn, leaders of successful companies start with a great idea at the right time, and the focused vision to turn the idea into reality. They have the ability to attract capital, as well as the discipline to be a hawk on expenses. They’re able to attract and retain excellent people, and they’re willing to work long hours—and then work some more. Along the way, they don’t shy away from taking calculated risks. Few know these things better than the judges of this year’s E&Y competition. They are: former JCPenney chairman and CEO Vanessa J. Castagna; Matrice Ellis-Kirk, a partner in the Dallas office of Heidrick & Struggles; Tim Golomb, managing director for The NASDAQ OMX Group; John M. Scott III, president and CEO of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts; Julie E. Silcox, managing director in charge of Citigroup’s Southwest Investment Banking Franchise; and Charlie Vogt, president and CEO of Genband. All the finalists—and the big winners—in E&Y’s Southwest Region North were scheduled to be honored June 27 at the Majestic Theater in Dallas.