Business development center director Ayla Annac

October 6, 2003

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PLATTEVILLE - Small business owners have to take risks. Ayla Annac, a native of Turkey, likens it to her move to the United States 12 years ago.

"I pursued my heart and my dreams," Annac said. "At that time I didn't even know that I would do what I would do, I just knew that I wanted to learn more. I love traveling, and I was young enough to take a risk that way to start all over a new life."

Entrepreneurs must also take some risks in order to reap the rewards, and Annac is eager to help as director and counselor at the UW-Platteville Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

The UW-Platteville SBDC is a resource for entrepreneurs in the region. They provide resources, training, one-on-one counseling and other educational programs to help hopeful business owners get their enterprise off the ground. A collaboration between UW-Extension, Southwest Wisconsin Technical College and the state SBDC office, many of their resources are offered free of charge. Additional workshops and seminars may be offered in the future at a minimum cost.

"We provide counseling, we provide education and training and we provide resources. We can link them with some resources in the community, the experts in the communities and to the people that may help them inside the communities," Annac said.

Some of the key areas the UW-Platteville SBDC is geared to handle include business planning, commercialization, patents, international marketing, exporting and importing, branding, marketing plans, business operations, business strategies and cash-flow management.

The UW-Platteville SBDC serves Grant, Lafayette, Green, Richland, Crawford and Iowa Counties. Annac sees the region as prime for economic growth.

"I believe the area has the potential to be upgrading their economic development, but it will take a team effort from each county's leadership to really increase the awareness of the need to have quality entrepreneurs," Annac said.

Annac would also like to strike partnerships with area school districts and help increase the awareness of entrepreneurship among people at a younger age. For business owners, however, you can never be too old to continue learning.

"They have to increase their knowledge all the time, and they have to work with people - the right resources and experts - all the time to increase their capacity," she said.

Annac bring years of expertise in developing and executing strategic business and marketing plans to her role at the SBDC. She also believes her story can serve as an inspiration to others. She grew up in Turkey, where the educational opportunities afforded to her didn't live up to the expectations she had.

"I was always thinking that there must be something more that I could do, but I didn't know what," Annac said. "I wanted to have an education, but the education in my country was not as good as or as available as in other countries, like in Europe or the United States."

She earned a master's degree in business administration from St. Louis University and a certificate for continued education from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Annac has hands-on marketing and business development experience in the United States, Europe, South America and Asia with consumer and industrial products companies including Procter and Gamble, Nestle, Ralston Purina and Fort James. A year ago she co-founded a biotech company, Invivo Sciences, and led a team of employees through all stages of developing the business, from scientific concept to commercialization.

She lives in Verona with her husband and in her free time enjoys to travel, bicycle, read and play "all kinds of sports." Her favorites are volleyball, swimming and soccer; though, what Annac enjoys most might come from being an entrepreneur after all.

"I like the joy of creating something, creating an idea and making it happen, turning it into reality," Annac said.

At the UW-Platteville SBDC, she'll get a chance to help others turn their ideas into realities as well. Those interested can reach Annac at the SBDC via telephone by calling (608) 342-1038, or via email at annaca@uwplatt.edu.

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