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Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Giovanni's Restaurant & Convention Center
610 N. Bell School Rd., Rockford IL 61107


Linnea Bengtsson
International Business Developer, City of Lidköping and Skaraborg County, Sweden

Linnea Bengtsson from Lidköping Sweden works as an International Business Developer for the City of Lidköping and Skaraborg County. Linnea hold´s a master’s degree in Personnel and Organizational Management from Karlstad University, Sweden.

In 2006 an Industrial Partnership Agreement was signed between Lidköping and Rockford with the overall purpose to generate economic growth for respective region. Linnea was the first Trainee who came to Rockford in 2008 and has been instrumental in maintaining and expanding the partnership.

In 2011 Lidköping’s Mayor appointed her to the first-ever full-time position as International Business Developer. The position has been expanded and since 2014 Linnea holds the position International Business Developer, representing both the City of Lidköping and Skaraborg County (15 municipalities). Lidköping and Skaraborg are the only ones in Sweden and perhaps the world doing this kind of an international effort and therefore this position is highly unique.

Linnea has strengthened existing partnerships and developed key new ones. She is also assisting companies in Lidköping, Skaraborg and Rockford, Winnebago County to explore partnerships to grow their businesses and add jobs to both communities. Linnea also works with a wide range of student and personnel exchanges and programs. For example, a high school in Lidköping and in Rockford has partnered to build three homes, influenced by Swedish Energy Efficiency concepts. Fire Fighters exchange, nurse students exchanges, teachers exchanges are other examples.

Linnea alternates her time between Lidköping and Rockford and the overall objective for Linnea is to assist organizations and companies to grow locally by working globally.


Laurel Bergren
Vice President, ARC Perspectives, Inc.

Laurel Bergren develops and implements strategies for clients both domestic and foreign to secure Special Use zoning permits and local zoning code amendments, as well as National Environmental Protection Act related activities.  In her role as management consultant, she assists clients in the areas of business development, stakeholder support, capital formation, debt structuring, public funding, incentives, and tax credits.  Ms. Bergren joined ARC Perspectives, Inc. in 1999.


Tommy Berry
President & CEO, Point Trade Services, Inc.

TOMMY L. BERRY is a recognized industry leader, with extensive experience in a wide variety of international trade, foreign-trade zone, and customs issues. Mr. Berry’s experience focuses on trade and customs compliance and risk management, foreign-trade zones, duty savings opportunities, industrial park master planning, global supply chain management and solutions, and inventory control systems integration.

Mr. Berry is the President, CEO, and Founder of PointTrade Services, Inc. PointTrade Services, Inc. is an international trade consulting firm consisting of three divisions – PointTrade Services Consulting, PTSI Managed Services, and FTZ School.

Through the consulting group, Mr. Berry oversees the provision of innovative solutions for trade and customs matters with a special emphasis on FTZs, compliance, prior disclosures, global supply chain strategies, process implementations, systems integration and training/seminars. The majority of PTSI’s client base includes top 50 importers into the US as well as public and private companies, public agencies, and small to mid-size importers.

Through the managed services practice, one of the largest of its kind in the industry, Mr. Berry oversees provision of FTZ operator and administrator managed services for the day-to-day operation of FTZ projects.

With PointTrade Services’ newest division, FTZ School (FTZSchool.com), Mr. Berry oversees PTSI’s cost effective solution for foreign-trade zone training in a variety of topics by PTSI’s team of FTZ professionals. The FTZ School interactive format allows individuals to receive expert training in a manner which saves on travel time and travel expenses.

For 35 years Mr. Berry has served in executive management positions including vessel management, Assistant Port Director, FTZ Manager, Sr. Vice President with a major law and consulting firm, and Managing Director and National Practice Leader at a Big 4 accounting firm, and now as President, CEO and Founder of PointTrade Services, Inc. Mr. Berry has successfully worked with CEO/CFO executive management level decision makers to market and deliver numerous international trade projects.


Pierric Bonnard
Managing Director, Ubifrance North America

Pierric Bonnard is North American Trade Commissioner for Industrial Goods (Aerospace, Automotive, Transportation Systems, Cleantech, Manufacturing Systems)  and is based in Chicago, Illinois.  With his post, Pierric directs 30 trade advisors throughout the U.S. and Canada with reponsiblity of the assessment of the North American market for French companies and the analysis of their market entry, business strategy and expansion.  Since 2001, he has served the French Trade Services in numerous positions as New Technologies and Innovation Director, Infrastructure and Services Division Director,  and Information Technology Department Director, all while based at the Paris headquarters. 

Prior to his work with Ubifrance- the French Trade Commission, Pierric held posts with the French Technology Press Office in London, and also as International Press Department Director for the Agency for International Promotion of French Technology and Trade Management.  Posted in Helsinki as the Scientific Attaché, Pierric Bonnard’s responsibilities included the forging of  Franco-Finnish scientific and technical partnerships. Early in his career, Pierric Bonnard taught high school physics, mathematics and interior architecture.

Pierric Bonnard is multi-lingual with fluency in French, English, Serbian and Italian; he is married with children and lives in Chicago.


Gaétan de la Vauvre
Trade Advisor, Ubifrance North America

Since December of 2008 Gaétan de la Vauvre has been a Senior Trade Advisor in Aerospace for Ubifrance North America in Chicago (French Embassy Trade Office). Gaétan directed several aerospace trade missions to promote French innovation and talent in the following sectors: business aircraft, commercial aircraft, helicopters, space, and UAV.

From 2003 to 2008 Gaétan was a student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Science with a commercial pilot license and a minor in Safety and in Business. In 2012 Gaétan de la Vauvre got his masters in Aeronautical Science with a specialty in Safety and in Management from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with the Worldwide Campus (Rockford, IL).


Russell L. Dennis Jr.
President & Chief Technology Officer, Leading Edge Hydraulics


Three words that best describe Russell L. Dennis Jr and the company he helps guide, Leading Edge Hydraulics.  As President & Chief Technology Officer, Russ is spearheading company growth through the purchase of a 63,000 square foot research and development center (Harrison Tech Center) on Rockford’s southeast side, along with the recent partnership with several European companies to enhance the company’s worldwide global market share.

Russ excels, and enjoys sharing his knowledge of value assessment and improvement, hydraulic fluid conveyance systems, business process improvements and information technology with his coworkers, and other local companies.  Growth in American companies, through innovation and a dedicated focus on the international market place has been, and will continue to be a major priority for Russ.

Russ received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Illinois State University.  While attending ISU he was very active in the Entrepreneurship program, was an Active Core Executive Counselor (ACE) for the SBA and actively assisted Small Businesses in the development of Business Plans.  Upon graduation, he then began his career with Sherwin Williams in a sales management role. In 1996 he moved on to the Director of Sales and Marketing with Lorine Manufacturing, which became Leading Edge Hydraulics in 2003.  Along the way, Russ earned the title of General Manager in 2001, Vice President in 2003, and finally Chief Technical Officer in 2007.

Giving back to the community is a large part of Russ’s philanthropic activities.  He has been involved with the Rockford Cosmopolitan Club for over 10 years.  Winning the following awards along the way:  Cosmopolitan International - President of the Year (first in history of Rockford Club since 1949), and the Cosmopolitan International - 3 time "Website of the Year".  Russ was also honored to receive the inaugural Rock River Valley (Rockford, IL Region) 2008 40 Leaders under 40 Award Recipient.

Russ is married to Cheryl Dennis, and has two beautiful daughters Kate and Sara.


Jim Foley
Director, Turner Center for Entrepreneurship - International Programs

At the Turner Center for Entrepreneurship, and the Illinois SBDC International Trade Center at Bradley University, Mr. Foley manages a program of counseling and training in international business planning, marketing, logistics and export finance. The centers are a joint venture between the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Illinois Department
of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and Bradley University with a mission to promote international trade and assist companies with trade expansion and training. He is also Director of International Programs for the Foster College of Business

Mr. Foley is a frequent speaker on issues of international trade and teaches International Business courses at Bradley University. He is a Past President of NASBITE International, and has served as the Director for the NASBITE Certified Global Business Professional (CGBP) credential. He is past Chairman of IATTO – International Association of Trade Training Organizations and serves as national co-chair of the Association of Small Business Development Centers (ASBDC) International Trade Committee.

Mr. Foley is the author of the book The Global Entrepreneur discussing techniques to expand international trade for small to midsize companies. Numerous colleges and universities have adopted the text for undergraduate and MBA international business courses. He is also the co-author of the tenth edition of International Marketing by Vern Tersptra, one of the landmark textbooks in international marketing.

In 2013 he was awarded the IATTO Lifetime Achievement Award at IATTO’s annual forum in Thessaloniki, Greece. Previous awards include the ASBDC State Star award, NASBITE International Trade Educator of the Year Award, Illinois ITC Director of the Year Award, and the Illinois Governor’s Export Award. Under his leadership, Bradley’s International Trade Center was awarded the President’s E Award in 2009 – the highest national honor for trade assistance programs.

Prior to joining the trade center in 1994, Mr. Foley lived and worked in Europe for seven years. His overseas business experience includes positions in marketing, sales, and corporate management in the computer industry. Mr. Foley received his MBA from the London Business School at the University of London, and his undergraduate degree from Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois. Before London, Jim worked in Los Angeles in the software industry, and also lived in Mexico City where he earned a Spanish proficiency certificate.


Hikaru "Koh" Fujimoto, CPA, MBA, JD
Principal-in-Charge of International Practice, Corbett, Duncan & Hubly, P.C.

Koh is the Principal-in-Charge of the International Practice. He concentrates his practice in the areas of financial statements audits and reviews. He is also experienced in transfer pricing, and internal audit services as well as forensic examinations for international companies.

A native of Japan, Koh has mastered the English language and western customs. He speaks, reads, and writes fluently in English and Japanese. As Principal-in-Charge of the International Group, his goal is to proactively help foreign companies doing business in the United States and U.S. companies doing business abroad. He is highly regarded in the international business community throughout the Midwest.

Koh first worked as a hotelier in the Republic of Vanuatu, an island county off the South Pacific. He moved to the U.S. to study hotel management at Michigan State University. Koh discovered his talent as an accountant when he took the hotel accounting course in the hotel management curriculum. He subsequently changed his major to finance and graduated from Michigan State University.

Koh believes in an old Arthur Andersen philosophy of “think straight, talk straight.” He wants to make himself the best he can be. At the same time, he makes efforts to continuously improve services to our clients. He also believes that the value of accounting services is in speed and accuracy. He is passionate about finding ideas to help his clients improve their operations.

Having a keen desire to continuously expand his knowledge, Koh considers “study and work” to be his hobbies. He passed his bar exam to become a licensed lawyer in the state of Illinois in 2004.  He is currently studying Mandarin Chinese


Keith W. Groebe
Principal, Masuda, Funai, Eifert & Mitchell, Ltd.

Keith Groebe represents clients throughout the U.S. in industrial, commercial, corporate, residential, entertainment, hospitality and agricultural real estate. His clients include developers, lenders, investors, buyers and sellers, and represent all sectors of the real estate business. Mr. Groebe is nationally recognized in the field of site selection and economic development incentive procurement.

Mr. Groebe has authored numerous articles and spoken locally and internationally on real estate issues, such as site selection, economic development incentives and foreign investment in U.S. real estate. He has been recognized as a “Top Lawyer in Illinois,“ an Illinois “Super Lawyer,” and most notably, achieved the distinction of being recognized A.V. Preeminent in Real Property Law for 20 consecutive years by Martindale-Hubbel Peer Review Rating.

Mr. Groebe is admitted to practice in Illinois, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and the United States Tax Court. He obtained his J.D. from DePaul University in 1979. He received both his B.A. (1975) and M.A. (1976) from the University of Illinois.

Mr. Groebe has served as a Special Assistant to the Attorney General of Illinois. He is a past chairman of the Chicago Bar Association Subcommittee on Foreign Investment in U.S. Real Estate, and a member of the Illinois and American Bar Associations.


Terry Houghton
PLC Sourcing Supervisor - Global Sourcing, Woodward, Inc.

Terry Houghton is a PLC (Product Life Cycle) Sourcing Leader at Woodward with the responsibilities of the Rockford, IL,  Zeeland, Michigan and Greenville, South Carolina facilities. He has been employed at Woodward for the 5 ½ years and has over 25 years of Aerospace sourcing experience.


Jin Kwon
Foreign Investment Affairs & International Business Development Manager, KOTRA (Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency)

Jin Kwon is a Foreign Investment Affairs and International Business Development Manager at KOTRA. She guides client companies through their business establishment in or with Korea and induces foreign direct investment into the country. She has experience in facilitating companies’ cross-border M&A, joint venture and other greenfield projects. She also assists client companies in developing and implementing business strategies related to Korea by providing market information, consulting them on incentives, tax, legal issues, and helping them connect with potential Korean partners.

Prior to join KOTRA, Jin had worked as a Marketing Communications Associate at a business journal for the medical device industry. There, she spearheaded the organization’s overall communication activities and marketing campaigns.

Jin earned her Master’s Degree in Communication Studies and dual Bachelor’s degrees in Communication and Business Administration from Boston University.


Luanne Mayorga
Coordinator, Business and Workforce Development, Northern Illinois University

Luanne Mayorga is Coordinator, Business and Workforce Development, Division of Outreach, Engagement and Information Technologies at Northern Illinois University. She is responsible for the research, development and implementation of economic and workforce development programming throughout the University’s region. One of her primary roles is the launch of Springboard, which connects the University to the small and medium sized business community.

Prior to joining NIU, Luanne was the Director of the International Trade Center at College of DuPage. She provided assistance to small and medium sized businesses throughout the Chicago area with exporting their products and/or services to overseas markets in addition to advising clients on a multitude of topics.  She had been involved with the Center for Entrepreneurship at COD for seven years and advised over 425 businesses with over 4,800 hours of consulting hours. Her clients achieved increased domestic sales of $13.5 million, export sales of $46 million, and funding of $1.175 million.

Luanne’s background has included a heavy focus on the retail industry, marketing, consumer behavior, social media and e-commerce.   Luanne has taught college courses in business and fashion disciplines for the past 14 years including marketing, international business, entrepreneurship, bridal couture, flat pattern and draping. She has Master’s of Business Administration degree with concentrations in Marketing and International Business from Benedictine University and holds a Bachelor’s degree in both Fashion Design and Fashion Merchandising from Dominican University, with a minor in Business.


Pete Mento
Director, Global Customs and Trade Policy, C.H. Robinson

Pete Mento is a Licensed Customs House Broker and brings industry recognized Foreign Relations Expertise. Pete is an accomplished policy academic who has written many articles and work papers on Trade Theory and Trade Practices. He is especially well versed in matters of import compliance, customs valuation, duty minimization, international finance, and defense industry compliance, free trade as a force for the elimination of poverty and cross border free trade agreements. Pete received his Master’s Degree in Government (Trade Theory Focused) from Harvard University and his undergraduate work at Maine Maritime Academy, where he served five consecutive terms as a member of the advisory board.


Ernst Nemeth
President & Founder, ARC Perspectives, Inc.

Understanding what motivates people to believe and act has always fascinated Mr. Nemeth. This questioning led to a MA in Psychology from the University of Illinois. After years of anticipating and motivating the behavior of individuals he began to look at business organizations and the challenges they face in their interactions with employees, other businesses and governmental agencies. All organizations have written rules and unwritten ways of interacting. The combination always causes confusion which must be managed. ARC Perspectives, Inc. was created in 1992 to assist companies in managing the confusion.

Recent assignments have included project planning, securing public funding and incentives, navigating zoning and permitting processes, and educating foreign companies to the complexity of the US regulatory environment. Understanding rural America (which is any area outside of a multi-million population center) has lead to projects in the agricultural industry, alternative energy, historic preservation, and the chemical industries.


Mike Nicholas
President, Rockford Area Economic Development Council

As President of the Rockford Area Economic Development Council, Mike is responsible for managing all the organization’s efforts, including business retention and expansion, new business recruitment, business start-up and entrepreneurship, and improvement of our regional business climate. In his role for the RAEDC, Mike serves on several community boards, including the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Rockford Chamber of Commerce, Rockford Local Development Corporation, Alignment Rockford, Rockford Area Strategic Initiatives, and Stateline Angels.

Prior to joining the RAEDC, Mike held senior managerial roles for Fiberesin Industries, Lakewood Holdings, Pride Communications, Suntronic Technology Group, Sun Electric, and Mark Controls. Most recently, he served as President & CEO of Continental Datalabel in Elgin.

Mike earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, as well as his Master of Science degree in Industrial & Systems Engineering, from Illinois Institute of Technology. He also earned a Master of Business Administration degree from University of Chicago. Mike and his wife come to the Rockford area from Crystal Lake, IL.


Tom Rohlfs
Supply Chain Director - Fuel Systems CoE, Woodward, Inc.

Tom Rohlfs is the Director of Supply Chain for the Next Generation Narrow Body.  Tom’s responsibilities are interfacing with the Value Stream Directors along with the Global Supply Chain in order to drive cost value within each Product Line.  Tom has been with Woodward for 2+ years and has 20 years experience with GE Aircraft Engines as well as 6 years with Goodrich Landing Gear.  28 overall years experience within Operations and Sourcing in the Aerospace Market.


Gabriel W. Sanders
Senior Manager, Credits & Incentives, Ernst & Young, LLP

Gabe is Senior Manager focused on Credits & Incentives in EY’s Chicago office. Gabe has assisted a variety of corporate clients in the manufacturing, insurance and financial sectors identify, secure and implement tax/business incentives packages. Gabe’s incentives experience at EY includes Tax Increment Finance redevelopment agreements, Illinois Economic Development for a Growing Economy tax credit packages, property tax abatements, High Impact Business and Enterprise Zone credits and exemptions, cash grants for equipment and technology, real property tax abatements and regulatory changes to achieve maximum value out of existing incentives packages,.

Prior to joining EY, Gabe was the Deputy Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (“DCEO”), responsible for all direct business incentive programs for the State of Illinois. While at DCEO, Gabe’s key responsibilities included the oversight, negotiation and award of the State’s business incentive programs including the EDGE Tax Credit program. Gabe has extensive experience working with State  and local government officials on incentive related matters; including the Governor’s executive team (Chief of Staff, Chief Operating Officer and General Counsels Office along with various agency directors and deputy directors) and members of the General Assembly.

Gabe is a Member of The City Club of Chicago, The Illinois Enterprise Zone Association and a Board Member of the Illinois Development Council. Gabe continues to work closely with State of Illinois officials on negotiated incentives, legislative policy and regulatory issues


Brian Tader
Managing Director, Lee & Associates

Brian was hired in 2013 as the Managing Director to oversee the brokerage operations of Lee & Associates of Illinois. His primary responsibilities include day to day operations of the company, business development, broker recruiting and development, and promotion of Lee & Associates company brand.

Brian is an accomplished professional with over 18 years of real estate experience. His specialties include warehouse and manufacturing development, property acquisition and disposition, marketing, leasing, tenant improvement, and asset management. In his career, he has been a finalist for the NAIOP Industrial Speculative Development of the Year and Industrial Redevelopment of the Year.

Brian lives in Arlington Heights with his wife and two children. He is actively involved in the community and coaching his kids in baseball, softball, and basketball.
Prior to joining Lee & Associates, Brian was with TCB Development in the position of Real Estate Director managing the marketing, leasing and development projects throughout the Chicago area. Over the course of his career he has also worked with other prestigious developers and owners of commercial real estate including First Industrial Real Trust, Manulife Financial and Van Vlissingen and Company.
Brian is a 1995 graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he earned a degree in Finance with an emphasis in Real Estate.
Over the course of his career, he has been affiliated with industry organizations including: AIRE, SIOR, NAIOP, Will County Economic Development, Chicago Southland Economic Development Corporation, and Northwest Indiana Economic Forum.


Carrie Zethmayr
Director of International Trade, RAEDC

As Director of International Trade for the Rockford Area Economic Development Council, Carrie manages initiatives to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) and increase regional exports . Carrie also manages Foreign Trade Zone #176 (FTZ), an important tool to manage international supply chains.

With extensive networks in China and Western Europe, Carrie develops and manages relationships with international trade partners. Carrie assists in developing international marketing strategies based on the Rockford Area’s industry clusters, and manages FDI client projects. As Director of the IL SBDC International Trade Center, Carrie consults Rockford area companies on export growth, facilitates international B2B matchmaking, and organizes the annual Go Global international trade conference.  Collaborating with public and private partners, Carrie organizes international trade missions to China and Western Europe to promote the Rockford region as a location for foreign direct investment and to assist local companies to connect with foreign markets.

Carrie expects to graduate from Thunderbird School of Global Management in 2015 with an MBA in Global Management. She graduated from Beloit College with a degree in Modern Languages and Asian Studies. In 2006 and 2007 she lived in Jinan, China where she studied Chinese language and culture. Carrie speaks both Mandarin and French.