Wisconsin Department of Commerce Newsletter
December 2006
Former SBDC State Director Erica Kauten Wins Ernst & Young Supporter of Entrepreneurship Award

Erica Kauten, the recently retired director for Business and Manufacturing Extension, University of Wisconsin-Extension, is the recipient of the 2006 national Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Supporter of Entrepreneurship Award.

Erica Kauten

Kauten was recognized for leading the Wisconsin Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for 10 years and for founding the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs' Network (WEN). She was praised for growing the SBDC, a unit of the UW-Extension Business and Manufacturing division, into a "driving force behind entrepreneurship in Wisconsin."

Under her leadership, state funding for entrepreneurs increased from $3 million to $5 million. The Wisconsin SBDC was the first to integrate peer learning for second-stage entrepreneurs, and was among the first to implement a statewide call center. In addition, the SBDC uses a number of Web-based tools, including a learning program to help people assess whether they are ready to be an entrepreneur.

Kauten also spearheaded the formation of WEN, which provides access to entrepreneurial resources and expertise from across Wisconsin. In its first year of operation (2005), WEN brought more than 85 partners together and reached more than 20,000 existing and aspiring entrepreneurs with one-to-one counseling and training.

Debra Malewicki, interim division director, says, "Erica Kauten has certainly earned this prestigious award. She has worked tirelessly to bring together multiple organizations to provide seamless solutions for aspiring entrepreneurs and small-business owners. WEN has helped develop ready access to the resources needed to build a successful business."

Through UW-Extension, all Wisconsin people can engage in lifelong learning, wherever they live and work. For more information about WEN: www.wenportal.org. For more information about the SBDC:  www.wisconsinsbdc.org. For more information about UW-Extension: www.uwex.edu.

Ernst & Young provides business services, including the core services of audit, tax and financial transaction, to clients in more than 140 countries. For more information about Ernst & Young: www.ey.com/perspectives.

The newsletter is issued electronically every other month.

Please send comments or questions to Barbro McGinn, editor.

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