Conference on Small Businesses & Entrepreneurship
April 4, 2005
URBANA -- Helping small businesses become and remain successful is one of the goals of the Illinois State Microenterprise Initiative (ISMI). The Initiative, along with the University of Illinois Extension and College of DuPage, put together a one-day event to examine ways to accomplish that goal.

The annual roundtable will take place on Friday, April 29 at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. "From Politics to Policy-- Supporting Microenterprise" is the theme of this year's event. "Although anyone with an interest in small businesses is welcome to attend, the day's topics will be particularly interesting to those who lend funds to small businesses, elected officials and business and economic development professionals who have an interest in small business and entrepreneurship," said Dar Knipe, a small business marketing specialist for University of Illinois Extension.

The Keynote speaker for the event is David Wilhelm. Wilhelm was the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and former President Clinton's campaign chairman. Since his retirement from politics, Wilhelm has become active in policy making and economic development. He is president of Woodland Venture Management, a company that develops small business investment vehicles for parts of the country and sectors of the economy that are underserved by the nation's financial industry. Wilhelm has made significant contributions to economic development in the central Appalachian region that includes Southeastern Ohio where he was raised. His latest project, Hopewell Ventures is based in Chicago and will bring investment dollars to disadvantaged regions in Illinois and parts of the Midwest.

Kristi LaFleur, Chief of Staff for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is the featured luncheon speaker. She will present an update on state initiatives that relate to entrepreneurship.

Representatives from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Illinois Facilities Fund and American Enterprise Organization will participate in a panel that will discuss timely issues and policies that will impact small businesses. William Kling of Ancel, Glink, Diamond, Bush, DiCianni & Rolek, P.C. will follow with a discussion on "Effective Policymaking for Microenterprise." Networking sessions round out the day's events.

Sponsors for the event are National City and Fifth Third Bank. Information and registration is available at or by calling Darlene Knipe (309-792-2500) or David Gay (630-942-2771).