Mike Jackson, chairman and CEO of the Fort Lauderdale-based AutoNation, the nation's largest auto dealership network, will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award Thursday night at the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards for Florida, held at the Omni Orlando Resort at Champions Gate.

Jackson, former head of Mercedes-Benz in the U.S., is credited with helping strengthen the company during a difficult period for the auto industry. In addition, the Entrepreneur of the Year will be chosen from a list of Florida business leaders.

"These finalists create jobs in our area, encouraging community development and innovation in our broader economy," said Patrick Gramling, the Ernst & Young program's host and a strategic-market leader for North Florida. "No matter who wins, we know one thing for sure — Florida is enriched by every one of these finalists."

All regional honorees are invited to an awards ceremony, hosted by Jay Leno, on Nov. 12 inPalm Springs, Calif.

Finalists by region and category are:

Central Florida

Financial Services category -- Peter R. Kassabov, chairman and CEO, Digital Risk, LLC,Maitland

Health Care category – Michael D. Means, president and CEO, Health First, Rockledge

Real Estate and Construction Services category – John R. Jennings, president, CEO and COO, Waste Pro,Longwood

North Florida

Business Services category – Andrew E. Harold Jr., president, A. Harold and Associates, LLC,Jacksonville

Consumer Services category – Matt Connell, president and CEO, Total Military Management, Inc. Jacksonville

Financial Services category – Richard Kahlbaugh, president and CEO, Fortegra Financial Corporation, Jacksonville

South Florida

Distribution and Manufacturing category – Neal Asbury, president, The Legacy Companies, Fort Lauderdale

Distribution and Manufacturing category – Mark A. Llano, president and CEO, Source One Distributors, Inc., Wellington

Emerging category – John J. Flynn, Founder, president and CEO, Fleet Advantage, Fort Lauderdale

Emerging category – Matias De Tezanos, founder and CEO, BrokersWeb.com, Inc.,Miami

Financial Services category – Bob Castro, founder and president, Bankers Healthcare Group Inc.,Southwest Ranches