November 21, 2007

Business development staff attends conference

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Three new business development staff members at Southern Illinois University Carbondale progressed toward certification and gained knowledge to help area small businesses at a recent conference.

Kimberly J. Sanders, Aimee M. Wigfall and Anja B. Meksem attended the Illinois Entrepreneurship and Small Business Growth Association's Annual Conference Nov. 6-8 in Peoria. There, the women began their business specialist certification process while training to improve strategies for assisting entrepreneurs and growing small business. In addition, Emily J. Carter, Lynn Anderson Lindberg and Robyn Laur Russell from SIUC attended.

Members of the Illinois Entrepreneurship Network comprise the Illinois Entrepreneurship and Small Business Growth Association. They include entrepreneurship centers, small business development centers, manufacturing extension centers, procurement technical assistance centers and international trade centers.

The six-person Southern Illinois contingent was among more than 75 business assistance experts from throughout Illinois attending the certification, continuing education and collaborative networking sessions at Peoria. Topics for the workshops, created for those who help entrepreneurs develop businesses, included guerrilla marketing, export finance, strategic planning for small companies, risk management and customer service.

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. Both assumed their positions this fall. This summer Sanders became director of the University Entrepreneurship Center, a Centralia-based center that's a partnership between SIUC and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Laur Russell is director of business development and international trade at SIUC. Carter is director of entrepreneurship and business development and Anderson Lindberg is director of manufacturing enterprise and business innovation.

Illinois Entrepreneurship Network (IEN) members assist small and high-growth businesses, coordinating access to small business consulting, entrepreneurship development services and other tools to help them make their business ventures succeed.

The IEN facilities at SIUC are located within the Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center at 150 E. Pleasant Hill Road in Carbondale. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity provides funding for the Illinois Entrepreneurship Centers and SIUC hosts the centers.

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