More than 500 people gathered Tuesday at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel as the Los Angeles Business Journal honored Richard Riordan as its Business Person of the Year. The annual Business Hall of Fame luncheon also honored top companies across an array of industries in Los Angeles.


Praised as a man committed to Los Angeles, the former mayor was recognized for his leadership, business record and his commitment to education.


Following a video presentation that chronicled the major events in Riordan's life, Riordan was introduced by Matt Toledo, publisher of the Business Journal, as the fifth inductee to the Business Journal's Business Hall of Fame.


"Dick Riordan is an icon of the business community," Toledo said. "More than his business success as a lawyer and venture capitalist, Riordan made himself a public figure, which distinguishes him from some past honorees."


Previous inductees were former Northrop Grumman Corp. chairman Kent Kresa, biotech entrepreneur Alfred Mann, billionaire John Anderson and billionaire and philanthropist Eli Broad.


In accepting the award, Riordan spoke of his love for Los Angeles and talked about his leadership philosophy.


"I hire the best and brightest people and delegate to them," he said, adding he empowered his employees to make decisions and take action.


The event also honored more than 50 of L.A.'s top companies in the areas of finance, professional services, business services, hospitality and travel, among others. Each was honored for landing No. 1 on The List during 2005. The List is published each week by the Business Journal.


"It was very impressive to see the people in the business community coming together to recognize the accomplishments of the mayor and the companies recognized," said Ron Gastelum, executive vice president of the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce.


Still recovering from heart bypass surgery several weeks ago, Riordan thanked his wife, Nancy Daly Riordan, for staying with him 24 hours a day while he was in the hospital. But he focused most of his remarks on his tenure as mayor.


Riordan, who was elected in 1993, spoke of his experience leading the city following the riots. He cited the Northridge earthquake in January 1994 as the defining moment of his leadership.


"The earthquake is the perfect example of delegation," he said.


Since inception, Riordan's foundation helped purchase computers and 145,000 books for elementary school libraries.

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