October 25, 2007

Small business, entrepreneur centers announce staff changes

by Christi Mathis


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CARBONDALE, Ill. — Recent staffing changes and additions will benefit clients of the Illinois Entrepreneurship Network at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Aimee M. Wigfall and Anja B. Meksem are filling newly created positions. Wigfall is a small business specialist for the Illinois Small Business Development Center and Meksem is an entrepreneurship specialist for the Southern Illinois Entrepreneur Center. In addition, Robyn Laur Russell is now the director of business development and international trade, following a recent promotion. The trio brings years of experience and ample business acumen to their work for the Illinois Entrepreneurship Network, commonly known by its acronym IEN.

Wigfall's responsibilities including counseling and training the network's clients interested in starting a small business in Southern Illinois. A Herrin native, Wigfall is already familiar with the local economy and landscape and said she is "looking forward with great enthusiasm to assisting the members of the small business community start, develop and succeed right here in Southern Illinois."

Wigfall earned her bachelor's degree in business management at SIUC and brings more than 14 years of small business, corporate and information technology experience to her new post. Her previous experience includes working as a consultant for small business and University departments for several years and graduate school employment in the field. For more information about the Illinois Small Business Development Center call 618/536-2424 or look online at www.southernillinois.biz.

Meksem is handling client relations and business coaching for IEN clients with high-growth capacity evidenced in their business models. Originally from Cologne, Germany, Meksem garnered more than a decade of corporate experience in worldwide sales and marketing there and in Leverkusen, Germany. Now residing in Carbondale, Meksem contributes international experience and expertise to the IEN.

Set to complete her master's degree in business and administration in December at SIUC, Meksem also acquired her bachelor's in marketing at the University. She worked with the IEN programs in a graduate assistantship and said she's excited about taking her work a step further in her new position. Meksem said she's also eager to give something back to SIUC and the Southern Illinois community. For more information about the Southern Illinois Entrepreneurship Center, call 618/453-3805 or visit the Web site at www.siecenter.biz.

In her new, expanded role Laur Russell, of Du Quoin, will continue to manage the Illinois Small Business Development Center while also focusing on expanded business development and international trade services. Russell is a dual degree alumna, earning both her bachelor's in journalism and her master's in workforce education and development at SIUC. She has 15 years experience at the University and has been helping businesses throughout the region since 2001.

She'll provide small businesses seeking international trade assistance with leadership and direction to help assure that "global economy" becomes part of their daily life. Laur Russell said the initiative provides a training and educational component to give small businesses understanding and firsthand experience enabling them to venture into new worldwide markets. The programs include "Are You Ready to Export?" and "International Business Certification." Call 618/536-2424 for additional information about international trade assistance.

"The addition of these professionals to our team will allow the outreach efforts of SIUC to continue to expand, with targeted services ranging from the start-up micro enterprise to the more mature businesses interested in international trade," said Emily Carter, director of entrepreneurship and business development. "One of our top priorities is to help Southern Illinois companies not only identify international opportunities but to translate these opportunities into revenue and profits."

The expanded services, under the umbrella of the Illinois Entrepreneurship Network, will enhance local, regional, national and international business opportunities for Southern Illinois businesses, Laur Russell said.

The Small Business Development Center and the Southern Illinois Entrepreneurship Center are located at SIUC within the Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center at 150 E. Pleasant Hill Road in Carbondale. The Illinois Entrepreneurship Centers are funded by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and hosted by SIUC.


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