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Small business fair offers boost to companies

Julie Carducci with U.S. Department Commerce explains how they can help businesses with international trade during small business workshop hosted

Julie Carducci with the U.S. Department of Commerce explains how they can help businesses with international trade during a small business workshop hosted by U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert on Thursday, August 23, 2012 at the Eola Community Center in Aurora. | Steven Buyansky~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 30, 2012 11:08AM

AURORA — U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert and a pair of Aurora-based business groups got together this week to help small business owners and entrepreneurs find new markets for their products and services.

The small business fair offered business owners and prospective new owners information on getting government contracts, exporting assistance, business development and grant writing – all free of charge.

The program at the Eola Community Center was sponsored by Biggert in partnership with the Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Quad County African American Chamber of Commerce.

Representatives from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Export Import Bank, Illinois Procurement Technical Assistance, City of Aurora Purchasing Department and Service Core of Retired Executives (SCORE) were among the 26 informational booths.

About 150 people turned out, filling the series of workshops offered – from learning how to get government contracts to alternative financing options.

Rita Haake, program manager for the Illinois Procurement Technical Assistance Center in DuPage County, provided information for people interested in expanding their services and products.

“Our system searches 400 sites per day on their behalf and clients receive an e-mail informing them of opportunities to respond with proposals,” Haake said.

Julie Carducci, director of commercial service for the U.S. Department of Commerce, assisted business owners interested in expanding globally.

“We talked to a telecommunications company exporting to a couple of countries that is interested in expanding to other markets,” Carducci said.

She said their offices overseas provide partner searches for U.S. businesses interested in a distributor partner to sell their products.

“If you are looking for someone to represent you in Santiago, Chile, it is difficult to find qualified candidates to interview. That is our partner search service. We are busy – never slow,” she said.

Greg Steen of Naperville is contemplating starting his own manufacturing business.

“I believe in our American manufacturing abilities – there are opportunities at home,” Steen said.

“People with decades of experience in their field, yet out of a job, are striking out on their own,” noted Cristina Madridejos Mancini, director of programs and events for the Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce.

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