May 05, 2008

Trip fosters international business relationships

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale business professionals Emily Carter and Robyn Laur Russell are networking and fostering international entrepreneurial relationships. Their recent visit to Mexico City, Mexico, is evidence of that.

Carter is director of entrepreneurship and business development while Russell is the director of business development and international trade, both at SIUC.

During their visit, Carter and Russell met with Illinois Trade Office officials and Tec De Monterrey University College of Business and incubator staff. The university is the largest and most prestigious in Mexico, according to incubator director Ricardo Bolanos Barrera. Tec De Monterrey University operates two business incubators on the Mexico City campus as well as 50 incubators located throughout the 33-campus university system.

The meeting included discussion about sharing clients and resources across the Mexican-American border in order to facilitate international trade and cross-cultural business development projects.

SIUC College of Business and Administration alumnus Ivan Sanchez Portillo, a Mexico City native, facilitated the trip's logistics and served as guide for the SIUC group. He is currently completing his master's in sports management at SIUC. He's also serving as a graduate assistant for the Illinois Small Business Development Center and the Southern Illinois Entrepreneurship Center, both located within the Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center at SIUC. Sanchez assists with youth entrepreneurship and the Spanish-speaking client base.

Also while in Mexico City, Carter and Russell met with Raymundo Flores, managing director and Omar Mendoza, commercial attaché, both with the Illinois Trade and Investment Office for Latin America. Carter and Russell learned about several upcoming exposition events pairing American and Mexican food and retail industry companies. Russell and Carter brought this information to Illinois Entrepreneurship Network clients and one local business, Advanced Power International, will be participating. The SIUC officials say that client sharing of this nature will eventually build a stronger trading base between the two nations.

The networking trip offered the opportunity to begin a dialogue between the SIUC Incubator and the Mexico Incubator, and talks will continue in conjunction with a National Business Incubation Association meeting this week in San Antonio, Texas. In addition, the partnership with the Mexican incubator was a springboard to another university-based incubator in Germany. The SIUC group plans a visit there later this year.

The SIUC Illinois Small Business Development Center (ISBDC) and the Southern Illinois Entrepreneurship Center provide guidance and training at little or no cost to existing and new businesses in the region utilizing proven management fundamentals. The U.S. Small Business Administration and Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity provide funding with SIUC as host as a service to Illinois small businesses. For more information about these offices or their programs call 618/536-2424 or look online at