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Columbia native wins entrepreneurship award

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Columbia native Joe Walker is an Army combat veteran and owns 19 Marco’s Pizza locations across South Carolina.

He once shut down one of his stores for days to make more than 2,000 pizzas for families in need and donated $10,000 toward a customer’s hypertension implant.

Now he’s being recognized for his business success and contributions to his community.

Walker was recently named the winner of the Veteran Entrepreneurship Award for the 2019 Multi-Unit Franchising Conference and Magazine Most Valuable Player Awards, according to a news release from Toledo, Ohio-based Marco’s Pizza.

The awards recognize franchisees who “demonstrate outstanding performance in growing their organizations and their brands,” according to the company.

“The Marco’s Pizza family has always welcomed U.S. Veterans with open arms to let them achieve their greatest entrepreneurial ambitions,” Tony Libardi, president and chief operating officer of Marco’s Pizza, said in the release. “As a veteran myself, it is always incredible to see fellow soldiers like Joe Walker get the recognition they deserve. Marco’s Pizza truly sees the value in hiring veterans, as they bring a unique skill set of leadership, accountability, teamwork and self-discipline.”

Walker served in the U.S. Army from 2004 until 2008 and was a member of the U.S. Army National Guard from 2008 until 2012. He served in Iraq, receiving a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart, according to the release.

The Veteran Entrepreneurship Award is won by a veteran and top-performing owner of multiple franchise locations.

“Deciding to enlist in the U.S Army made me the leader I am today,” Walker said. “Serving alongside some of America’s finest for over eight years, I learned how to manage a team to protect lives and represent the best values of the United States. It was with this experience I have been able to lead an amazing team within my business and move the Marco’s brand toward success.”

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