August 14, 2007

Forum set for statewide business award-winners

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. – The Illinois Entrepreneurship Network at Southern Illinois University Carbondale has some special plans for the winners of the 2007 INNOVATE Illinois awards. In conjunction with the six-month program that the 13 statewide winners are participating in, there will be a southern regional forum Aug. 16-17 to kick things off.

The Arthur Agency Inc. of Carbondale, Boon-Docks Equipment Inc. of Herrin and SoiLL., Inc. of De Soto are the southern region winners. Joining them at the forum will be Colorlab Cosmetics Inc. of Rockford, K.W. Powell & Associates Inc. of Rockford, Leading Edge Hydraulics of Rockford, BrightStart Franchising LLC of Chicago, ClaimForce Inc. of Warrenville/Chicago, GoPicnic, Inc. of Chicago, Professional Swine Management LLC of Carthage, Neat-Oh! International, LLC of Northfield/Chicago, R Cubed Technologies of Galesburg and Vision Technology Inc. of Champaign.

Leaders of the businesses will meet with successful entrepreneurs from throughout the region in networking discussions and roundtable talks to learn more about what it takes to achieve and maintain business success. A networking reception the evening of Aug. 16 kicks off the forum and the following day is packed with discussions and helpful information at meetings at SIUC's Touch of Nature Environmental Center.


Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and camera crews are welcome to attend the keynote address by Dippin' Dots Inc. chairman and founder Curtis Jones at 1:30 p.m., Friday, Aug. 17 at the Touch of Nature Environmental Center, seven miles south of Carbondale on Giant City Road.


SIUC alumnus Curtis D. Jones, founder and chairman of Dippin' Dots Inc. and Dippin' Dots Franchising Inc. will present the keynote speech during the afternoon program. Jones earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in microbiology at SIUC. While researching various freezing techniques for large-scale commercial preservation of bacteria and enzymes in 1987, Jones developed the idea behind Dippin' Dots ice cream. A quick-freeze process using liquid nitrogen produces the novelty ice cream now sold around the globe.

Jones' company has earned a number of awards, including listings among the top 500 fastest growing privately held companies in the country for two years by Inc. Magazine. Entrepreneur Magazine in 2002 named Dippin' Dots the top new franchising opportunity and Jones will share his story at the forum.

The intensive INNOVATE Illinois program offers the award winners access to various resources and expertise, capped by a $10,000 grant upon completion of the program. Funded through the Opportunity Returns program, it's all about helping businesses grow through mentoring, growth planning, education, peer networking and access to sales and capital opportunities.

"We are pleased and excited to launch the first regional meeting of the 2007 INNOVATE Illinois program here in Southern Illinois," said Emily Carter, director of the Southern Illinois Entrepreneurship Center. " The purpose of this program is to recognize innovation in small businesses and give these companies some additional wrap-around resources and assistance to help them grow their companies."

The Arthur Agency is an interactive advertising agency using traditional advertising in conjunction with various newer media services including web design, CD-Roms, DVDs and 3-D animation. Boon-docks Equipment designs and manufactures farm implement solutions for various clients including contractors, landscapers, small farmers and hobbyists. SoiLL manufactures indoor and outdoor hand and foot grips for artificial rock climbing walls.

The Illinois Entrepreneurship Network at Southern Illinois University includes the Southern Illinois Entrepreneurship Center, the University Entrepreneurship Center in Centralia, the Illinois Small Business Development Center and the Illinois Manufacturing Extension Center.