Otto M. Budig, Jr., leader of one of Cincinnati’s largest privately-owned businesses was able to use his business savvy to give back to the community, as one of the region’s primary benefactors.
He was a firm believer that what makes a city stand out from others is the arts community celebrated in it, once stating that without it, Cincinnati would be “second-rate”. For decades he has invested heavily in that view with both his time and treasure, so much that his name and philanthropy have now become synonymous with Cincinnati’s thriving arts scene. That advocacy has been illustrated further by his service on numerous boards, including the Cincinnati Ballet, Cincinnati Arts Association, University of Cincinnati Foundation, Cincinnati Museum Center, Ensemble Theatre, Cincinnati Zoo, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and Cincinnati Recreation Commission.
But it was in 1994 that Budig’s biggest impact to date was made to the city he loves. He founded the Otto M. Budig Family Foundation, which is named for his father. Supporting many different not-for-profit organizations, it primarily focuses on his love of the arts. To date, more than $25M have been donated by the foundation to organizations including Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Ballet and Cincinnati Shakespeare Company just to name a few.
He also was deeply involved with his alma mater, the University of Cincinnati. In 2009, he returned to UC to receive their highest award, an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. He first arrived on campus in the 1950’s after graduating from high school in his birthplace of Newport. A 1956 accounting graduate at UC, he then went on to serve our country as an Air Force Pilot for the next seven years, ultimately returning to Cincinnati at the end of his service.
An entrepreneur at heart, he served as President as Budco Group, Incorporated, a privately held business specializing in transportation, equipment and real estate. In 2013 the company generated nearly $200M in revenues and had more than 30 locations in both the U.S. and Canada. Budig’s indelible mark on the Cincinnati area will be with the city for decades to come.